Purnell Johnson and Olga Cardenez investigators their personal stories of sexual harassment, discrimination and retaliation. Reams of information were collected, boxed and sent to Washington for review. However, employees were later told the material was lost in transit, and no action was taken to address their allegations. In 1993, faced with increasing EEO complaints originating in the Dallas office, Norma Cantu, the Education Department’s Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, retained John Harris and his partner Robert Honig, of the Harris Consulting Group \(a tigate the Dallas OCR. \(Before her appointment to the Department of Education position, Cantu had served as legal director for the Mexican American Legal Defense and “I was appalled by what we found,” Harris said, after interviewing a majority of the employees in person. “We also gave them a questionnaire to measure their stress level. We were shocked at the degree of fear and intimidation these employees felt. The women were crying, some almost hysterically.” In a management report submitted to Cantu by Harris and Honig, their investigation showed that the Dallas Office of Civil Rights was incapacitated by its “pathol ogy,” and had an extraordinarily high number of EEO complaints, some relating to allegations that had continued for more than a decade. In particular, Taylor August, the report said, who had been regional director since 1979, was at the heart of most of those complaints. In fact, most of the complaints were instigated by minority staffers in the OCR against Taylor August, a black man. “The workplace is one characterized by hostility in which individuals must cope by alienation, denial, isolation and anti-social responses…this workplace of hostility materializes not only in perceptions and attitudes, but in the policies and practices of management,” the report stated. The investigation also found that disabled employees were targeted and harassed and that their medical records were improperly used “in a way that violates the Americans with DisThe Harris Group Management report found that seventy-nine percent of the disabled employees and fifty-three percent of Hispanics suffered from high, harmful stress. According to the report, the Dallas OCR had twice the national norm of medical intervention for emotional and nervous problems and referred to OCR employees as “wage slaves” subject to “an involuntary servitude, [under which] the employee CHARLES DUKES must tolerate much abuse and harm for the sake of his family and his survival.” One OCR investigator, who has asked to remain anonymous for fear of retaliation, said the atmosphere in the Dallas OCR was like that of a prison concentration camp. “When the Robert Ramirezes were being metaphorically beat up by the guards, we looked the other way because we, at least, weren’t getting beat up by the guards.” ROBERT RAMIREZ, a disabled Vietnam veteran and Dallas OCR nvestigator, was one of the employ ees Harris and Honig found had been particularly targeted for reprisals by the OCR administration. Ramirez, the Harris Report stated, had filed two sets of complaints against Taylor August, claiming discrimination on the basis of his ethnicity and disability, and also claiming reprisals for filing earlier EEO complaints. Ramirez, who severely injured his arm in combat and suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, requires medical accommodation at work: a word processor and dictaphone to aid in the writing of reports and assignments and deadlines that can be completed in a 40-hour work week. Instead, Ramirez previously had been assigned extraordinary workloads with immediate THE TEXAS OBSERVER 11
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