Michael McCray, National Spokesman for the ACORN 8 included a Class Action count in a formal EEO complaint filed against USDA yesterday. McCray alleges that the entire EEO Process –as applied– at USDA has a disparate impact on minority complainants under Title VII and seeks EEO class certification. Charges of discrimination at the department of Agriculture are nothing new. Black farmers, mostly from the South, have long complained that they have been consistently denied loans, grants and other assistance by a "good old boy" network of local USDA field offices. Hispanic and American Indian farmers have also filed lawsuits against the department.
Washington, D.C. - December 28, 2009 -- On December 21, 2009 Michael McCray, National Spokesman for the ACORN 8 included a Class Action count in a formal EEO Complaint Number 19028 filed against USDA yesterday. In the cover letter addressed to Pearlie Reed, Assistant Secretary for Administration, McCray alleges that the entire EEO Process –as applied– at USDA has a disparate impact on minority complainants under Title VII and seeks EEO class certification. A USDA civil rights veteran from the Clinton Administration, Secretary Vilsack tapped Mr. Reed to solve USDA’s lingering civil rights claims.
The Agriculture Department plans to review more than 14,000 civil rights complaints that have been filed against the agency since 2000. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said only a small number of those complaints were eventually decided against the department and that 3,000 of the complaints have not even been processed.
"This issue has lingered too long," Vilsack told reporters. Vilsack said the department would create a task force to review a sample of the complaints filed in the last nine years, supported by an independent legal counsel. On August 24, 2009 U.S. Senator Blanch Lincoln (D-AR) wrote a letter to Secretary Vilsack encouraging him to process Mr. McCray’s and others unresolved EEO issues.
Ironically, Michael McCray started his career in community development, and became a whistleblower after he suffered retaliation for his efforts to ensure that government funds actually benefited the low and moderate income communities it was intended to serve; just like he did as a national board delegate for the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN). McCray alleges that he was demoted, discharged and “blacklisted” from subsequent federal and non-profit employment after he reported government waste, fraud and abuse by USDA.
McCray alleges that this case was unusual because USDA officials refused to cooperate with the investigation or sign their own affidavits. “This was the rare case where the complainant presented a prima fascia case with evidence and collaboration and the government presented no legitimate defense. No evidence and no corroboration, but the civil rights division refused to process the complaints.”
Unfortunately, this case was never processed, investigated or heard. McCray established a prima facie case of discrimination and retaliation with admissible evidence, eyewitness testimony and legal admissions. However, after 4,380 days (from 5/20/07) Attorney McCray never received a hearing or any due process; he alleges due to baseless, dilatory litigation tactics and reported judicial misconduct amounting to coordinated judicial wrongdoing. Judicial Complaint No. 03-9. (6/11/03).
Undaunted, McCray continues to fight for the rights of others; including low and moderate income families and federal worker’s rights as National Spokesperson for the ACORN 8, co-chair of the International Association of Whistleblowers and member of the No FEAR Coalition.
The ACORN 8, L.L.C. (www.ACORN8.com) is an organization of ACORN leaders; current and former board members who are struggling to reform the association following the discovery of a multi-million dollar embezzlement; and is dedicated to empowering low and moderate income people through advocacy, direct action and integrity in community organizing.
In May 26, 2009, the No FEAR Coalition wrote a letter to Secretary Vilsack requesting that Michael McCray’s prior EEO case be immediately processed at this time EEO Case Number 990026. Consequently, the ACORN 8 join with the No FEAR Coalition in their support of Michael McCray and federal workers rights at USDA.
The Associated Press reports that, charges of discrimination at the department of Agriculture are nothing new. Black farmers, mostly from the South, have long complained that they have been consistently denied loans, grants and other assistance by a "good old boy" network of local USDA field offices. Hispanic and American Indian farmers have also filed lawsuits against the department.
“What know now, but didn’t know then, was that McCray’s case was not an isolated event, ignoring EEO/whistleblower cases was business as usual for USDA.” states Retired Chief Deputy Marshal Matthew Fogg. “Secretary Vilsack recently announced his intention to reopen 14,000 EEO cases over the last ten years; 3,000 of which were never even processed at all.”
Chief Deputy Fogg won a historic $4 Million verdict against the Justice Department; “declaring the U.S. Marshal’s service as a discriminating agency for African-Americans.” Chief Deputy Fogg, is Co-chair of the No FEAR Coalition and is the EEO representative for Michael McCray. The No FEAR Coalition is committed to the full enforcement and implementation of the Notification of Federal Employees Anti-Discrimination and Retaliation Act (No FEAR) of 2002 and the introduction of new No FEAR II legislation.
“It is a shame that USDA could blatantly violate these worker’s civil service protections and constitutional rights.” concludes Chief Deputy Marshal Fogg.
According to the Associated Press, USDA settled a class-action lawsuit from black farmers, in 1999, agreeing to pay $50,000 plus tax benefits to those who could show they faced discrimination. The government has paid out nearly $1 billion in damages on almost 16,000 claims.
In closing, “Secretary Vilsack promised a New Era for Civil Rights at USDA,” McCray concludes. “We will see how they respond to the first Class Action filed in this celebrated New Era.”