• Changes made to convention center's work culture despite unfounded discrimination claims

    By: Jason Kelly , Lauren Seabrook

    Updated:

    ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. - Allegations of racial slurs, discrimination and nooses hanging at the Orange County Convention Center were ruled unfounded by the county's Office of Professional Standards.

    The investigation prompted the county to create a plan to change the facility's work culture.

    An employee said some of his co-workers were racist and management ignored it. The complainant also said his white co-workers were promoted more often.


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    The county said the allegations were unfounded and no one was disciplined or fired.

    Some employees said they were referred to as the Black Lives Matter group at work when they said other employees made racial remarks and slurs about African-Americans.

    The Office of Professional Standards investigated the Event Operations Division and decided changes needed to be made.

    An employee said some of his white co-workers made degrading comments about "names, like Sheniqua" and talked about "the number of children African Americans have" and their "inability to care or provide for them," a report said.

    He said his co-workers mocked "African-Americans' use of government benefits, such as food stamps" and kneeling for the national anthem at NFL games.

    He also said the division's coordinator talked about "his father owning slaves, who then became sharecroppers (and worked on his relative's cabbage plantation) to illustrate that he (the coordinator) was not racist." 

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    The investigation said other employees reported seeing nooses hanging in the catwalks of the Convention Center.

    The division employs 13 black workers and 147 white workers.

    After interviewing all employees, the office said it did not uncover behavior that rose to a level of discrimination or misconduct.

    But in direct response to the allegations, all employees will now be required to go through harassment and sensitivity training, managers will take a "hiring for culture fit" course before selecting candidates and the department now has a new supervisor.

    Investigators found the employee who made the complaint was not promoted because of a history of being late and not showing up for work. They said it was unrelated to his race.

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