NAACP alleges racial discrimination against Holyoke business - Western Mass News - WGGB/WSHM

NAACP alleges racial discrimination against Holyoke business

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The Greater Springfield branch of the NAACP has brought allegations of racial discrimination against a Holyoke business and the group has reached out to the state to investigate.

Rev. Talbert Swan, president of the Greater Springfield chapter, said his group was informed of the allegations back in September of 2012.

The NAACP has filed six complaints against WestMass ElderCare in Holyoke.

Among the alleged complaints made to the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD) were that supervisors were instructed to give poor performance evaluations to minority employees and failure to allow one minority employee to use the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) for extended time off, while a white employee was allowed to use FMLA.

Just this week, Swan sent a letter to the Commonwealth's Executive Office of Elder Affairs.

"We think it is time for the Commonwealth, which provides the majority of its funding, to look into the agency and determine whether or not its practices are in line with the Commonwealth's goals and objectives," said Swan.

In the letter, Swan asked the office to investigate WestMass ElderCare's human resources department, as well as put a freeze on the agency's funding.

Swan alleges that not only was a minority employee fired for taking time off due to a documented medical reason, but two white employees were fired trying to help protect the minority employees.

"An overall leadership change at WestMass ElderCare is in line to insure that this discrimination does not continue," Swan stated. "I believe then some level of training around diversity and inclusion for the entire staff would be appropriate as well."

Swan said he has attempted to meet several times with the agency to discuss the allegations.

CBS 3 spoke with the WestMass ElderCare's executive director, Priscilla Chalmers, on Friday morning.

She issued a statement, saying:

"Regarding a NAACP letter claiming discrimination, we are aware of it. It is our understanding that this matter is being handled by the proper authorities, MCAD and our attorney. We continue to focus our time and effort on our mission to care for elders and persons with disabilities at home. Beyond that we can't comment further."

Swan said before the allegations were made public by the NAACP, the branch's legal redress committee investigated and made sure the claims had merit.

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