EEOC Releases Findings on Noose Found at CPS Office in Midland

By Camaron Abundes
Newswest 9

MIDLAND - New developments on a story NewsWest 9 first told you about last June: The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission issued a determination on a complaint filed by a former CPS employee who found a hangman's noose in an office back in December 2007.

The former CPS employee filed a discrimination grievance back in the Summer of 2007 with the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services. In December of 2007, she complained after she found the hangman's noose on a doll inside the office. The employee who spoke on a condition of anonymity said the supervisors did not remove the doll when she complained and felt the placement of the doll was used as retaliation based on harassment and intimidation.

Teresa Tena-Anchondo, Area Director for the El Paso Area Office of the U.S. EEOC said in the determination letter, "The information gathered in the investigation is sufficient to show that [TX Dept. of Family and Protective Services] allowed a hangman's noose to be displayed in the work place, even after Charging Party complained of being offended by it, in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended."

The EEOC did not address the former employee's charge that the noose was used as a form of retaliation, which is a violation of federal law.

"I am not privy to all of the investigative reports or the evidence that was presented to the federal government," Gene Collins, President of the Odessa Branch of the NAACP, said. Collins cautions viewers against jumping to conclusions.

"In Texas not only were African Americans hung but anyone stealing a horse was hung. This was the wild frontier and we need to make sure that we have evidence that this was the intent to show racial hatred or to show this as a hate symbol." Collins said he is opposed to symbols that are used purely to convey hate.

"Any time an employee feels intimidated by anything that happens in the work place, there should be an immediate response, by the employer to remove that symbol if necessary," he said.

According to the EEOC's determination, "The Commission will begin conciliation efforts to resolve all matters where there is reason to believe that a violation has occurred." If a resolution is not met the EEOC says it will advise the Charging Party of "court enforcement alternatives available."

The former employee tells NewsWest 9 that they have retained an attorney.

Spokesperson for the Department of Family and Protective Services declined to comment on the developments. Last year, a spokesperson said a thorough investigation was conducted following the employees complaint.