Delaware County has terminated its first DEI Officer amidst allegations of discrimination against her Black superior


Following her return from medical leave, Lauren Footman, the pioneering Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) officer of Delaware County, faced termination amid allegations of racial discrimination against her superior, Chief Administrative Officer Marc Woolley.

According to reports from The Philadelphia Inquirer, Delaware County extended Footman a 12-week severance package with the condition of withdrawing her complaint filed with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), an offer that Footman declined.

The controversy arose when Footman lodged a complaint with the EEOC in November, alleging unfair treatment by Woolley, 55, towards herself and other Black women employees. Footman, aged 32, also accused Woolley of retaliation for previous internal complaints she had raised.

An internal investigation report from September 2023, conducted by legal representatives from Rudolph Clarke, acknowledged that while Woolley’s status as an African-American man doesn’t exempt him from discrimination claims, it concluded that he did not discriminate against African-American women in the performance of his job duties.

image credit: karen Mcd/Black Enterprise

Responding to the situation, county spokesperson Adrienne Marofsky emphasized that Footman’s termination was unrelated to the EEOC complaint, affirming the county’s commitment to combatting hate and ensuring the effectiveness of its DEI initiatives.

Footman’s decision to file the EEOC complaint coincided with her medical leave due to anxiety and depression, which she attributed to the alleged adverse working conditions. Hired in April 2022, Footman’s complaint alleged that Woolley exhibited favoritism towards white workers over Black employees, particularly Black women. She cited instances where Woolley allegedly gave preferential treatment to “an attractive white woman” official facing a similar issue to Footman’s.

Additionally, Footman claimed that Woolley advocated for progressive discipline for a white employee but not for a Black female employee. She also alleged that Woolley dismissed her proposal for gender-neutral bathrooms, stating that transgender individuals would be directed to the bathroom of his choosing.

Woolley, however, refuted Footman’s accusations.

Repurposed article originally published in Black Enterprises.

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