Former Fayetteville Police Chief threatens lawsuit over hostile work environment allegations

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Written by Paul Woolverton | City View Senior Reporter

Former Fayetteville Police Chief Gina Hawkins suffered a hostile work environment at Fayetteville and plans to sue unless the city reaches a settlement with her, her attorney said in August. I wrote it in a letter.

First, Hawkins’ letter. Reported by WRAL, Hawkins claims that she was treated poorly because she is a black Hispanic woman. The document outlines an incident in which Ms Hawkins alleges she was assaulted, threatened and treated in a racist and sexist manner.

The letter was written by attorney James Hairston Jr. of the Hairston Lane office in Raleigh.

The conditions Hawkins endured violated federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission regulations, Hairston wrote. He offered to negotiate with the city on Hawkins’ behalf without filing a lawsuit “if the city wishes to amicably resolve her complaint.”

City officials declined to comment on the letter, citing state personnel law privacy requirements.

Mr. Hawkins served as Fayetteville Police Chief from August 2017 to January 2023.

Yelling, racist expressions, suspicions of infidelity

Some of the claims in the letter include:

  • In the summer of 2020, during a meeting between the mayor and several city leaders regarding the civil unrest that coincided with the George Floyd protests, Mayor Mitch Colvin said, This deployment has proven to be the best and safest practice for the City of Fayetteville.”
  • The letter alleges that Councilman Johnny Dawkins used racial epithets about the COVID-19 pandemic during a summer 2020 city council meeting that was closed to the public. He also said he “yelled at the chief in front of the entire council during the meeting.” Dawkins also disagreed with the secretary about how staff should be allocated, the letter said.
  • At the Police Foundation Ball in October 2022, Dawkins said former city councilor Tyrone Williams had claimed to have had an affair with her. This was false, her letter says. “This is disgusting, and her spreading of lies about her being a woman and having relationships with other members of Congress is a direct example of the culture that members of Congress have created,” the report said. There is. (Mr. Williams retired in 2018. accusation He was demanding bribes from developers. )
  • The letter states that at a city council meeting in early 2022, Councilman Mario Benavente yelled at Hawkins and told him, “My goal is to bring you down. I’m going to get you.”

Defamation blog and first of two investigations

The letter states that anonymous bloggers began publishing lies about the police chief and the mayor.

It said two investigations were carried out to investigate the blog and its allegations.

The initial investigation was conducted by Jerry Kripp, the city’s workforce development director, at the request of some City Council members, and Hawkins was interviewed for the investigation, the letter said.

“During the interview, Mr. Cripp repeatedly asked sexist and racist questions that had no bearing on the claims made in his blog,” the letter said. “The Chief stopped the Chief and continued to say that the Chief’s questions were sexist, racist, and offensive. The interview was so offensive that the Chief had similar feelings. ”

The letter said Klip’s investigation found “no policy or criminal violations,” but Klip also failed to interview Mayor Colvin.

The letter said that following Mr. Cripp’s report, Mr. Colvin and Mr. Dawkins, then mayor pro tem, “requested further investigation by an outside investigative contractor.”

The letter states that the mayor’s ordering a second investigation without giving any voluntary statements or being interviewed for the first investigation “directed further harassment of the chief.” “This is just one example of a discriminatory environment and evidence of how the chief was treated as a black man.” /Hispanic woman. ”

Blog Next Investigation

The letter says a consultant hired by the city administrator for a second investigation also reviewed the blog.

“They have confirmed that the blog is full of lies,” the letter says. “Consultants also noted that when HR reviewed interviews conducted with chiefs, they noticed a major issue: how HR directors needed training on the EEOC, interview techniques, and active listening skills. Did.”

EEOC stands for Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

continued fallout

“Hostility and discrimination have continued” since Hawkins retired from the Fayetteville Police Department in January, the letter said.

“The Secretary has reason to believe that, based in part on the matters previously discussed, members of the council contacted prospective employers to recommend that he not be hired,” it said.

City officials say they can’t discuss Hawkins’ letter.

Colvin and council members Dawkins and Benavente said Thursday they could not publicly discuss Hawkins’ claims.

City spokeswoman Lauren Beimer said North Carolina’s Human Resources Privacy Act restricts city staff from commenting.

“While cities would like to provide an answer, the North Carolina Bureau of Statistics states that § 160A-168 provides that, unless otherwise authorized by this law, a city-controlled employee, former employee, or job applicant “The city is prohibited from commenting further on this matter at this time.”

Senior reporter Paul Woolverton can be reached at 910-261-4710 and pwoolverton@cityviewnc.com.

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Link to WRAL’s story on the clause “First reported by WRAL”: https://www.wral.com/story/former-fayetteville-police-chief-claims-hostile-workplace-forced-her-to-retire/21143016/

Tyrone Williams links:
https://www.cityviewnc.com/stories/council-candidate-tyrone-williams-denies-fbi-investigation-ever-happened,8527

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