Spokane Transit Authority investigating HR Director's Facebook comments

The Spokane Transit Authority is launching an investigation after the union representing bus workers, called out the Human Resources Director for racist remarks.

Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1015 President Thomas Leighty says they are concerned with the agency's commitment to being an equal opportunity employer.

The comments were brought to the unions attention last week on Facebook. The public post was made in January 2017 by the human resources director at STA. Leighty says it doesn't matter if it was a private or public post, it's disturbing.

Spokane Transit Authority's Director of Human Resources Nancy Williams shared a post on her Facebook page about a horrific news story that made headlines.  The story is about a special-needs man that was tortured in Chicago while his attackers streamed it on Facebook. Williams wrote, "Thought I would see more outrage on Facebook about this... these “kids” are despicable animals."

Leighty showed KHQ screenshots. "While we think that remark alone is disturbing and might consider it merely a poor choice of words, but in the thread of comments that follows, Mrs. Williams makes her feelings crystal clear by cheering on commenters making undenieably racist remarks,” he said.

For example, a comment was made on Williams post by another woman that said in part quote, “If you don't teach primates at an early age, (no matter what skin they are in) they continue to be non-civilized."

“Not only did Mrs. Williams not intervene, she liked the comment and when another commenter disputed it, she came to the defense of the racist commenter, saying that she agreed and that a lot of other commenters did too," said Leighty.

The union is now calling for Williams' resignation from her position immediately.  "There is no room for this type of bigotry, in the private sector and there should be no room for it in our public institutions,” said Leighty.

KHQ reached out to Williams by phone and by email and have not heard back.

The Spokane Transit Authority issued a statement saying, “Spokane Transit has an unwavering commitment to diversity and non-discrimination in each and every level of the organization. From our hiring practices to our transit planning outreach, or the services we provide to thousands of people every day, our goal is to be a source of pride for the region.  We can only be that by ensuring an environment where everyone is treated equally, and with dignity.

Through today’s ATU 1015 press conference, we were made aware of a claim of discrimination and STA Board leadership will take immediate action to investigate.”

Beth Bousley, Director of Communications and Customer Service at STA says Williams has not been put on administrative leave. The board is meeting to figure out the next steps.

Leighty says the STA's Board of Directors meeting is next week on Thursday. They are going to be there to make sure that the board brings forward their concerns.

Recommended for you