Commissioner calls for Multnomah County racial bias investigatio - KPTV - FOX 12

Commissioner calls for Multnomah County racial bias investigation

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Multnomah Co. Commissioner Loretta Smith is requesting an independent investigation into county employment practices after former Public Health Director Tricia Tillman said her firing was racially motivated. (KPTV) Multnomah Co. Commissioner Loretta Smith is requesting an independent investigation into county employment practices after former Public Health Director Tricia Tillman said her firing was racially motivated. (KPTV)
PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) -

Multnomah County Commissioner Loretta Smith is calling on Chair Deborah Kafoury to hold an independent investigation of possible racial bias within county hiring and firing practices.

The request comes on the heels of the county’s public health director being fired earlier this year.

At a news conference held Wednesday with other African-American leaders, Smith said she feels that claims of potential racial bias from former Public Health Director Tricia Tillman were ignored and that they speak to a much bigger problem.

Tillman filed a complaint with county administrators saying she felt her firing was racially motivated, but after a three-week investigation, the human resources manager found that not to be true.

Smith said Wednesday a person Tillman complained about was actually involved in the investigation and that she feels it’s part of systemic racial bias the county needs to address.

“The public deserves a clear understanding of how a well-regarded leader of color was forced out of the county as soon as she returned from family leave, and they deserve to have confidence in their county leaders,” she demanded.

County Chief Operating Officer Marissa Madrigal said she and Kafoury are searching for an outside consultant to do an investigation.

Madrigal added that they are committed to handling race-related complaints better and finding out what needs to improve.

"Do we have the right practices? Are our practices and our structures here at Multnomah County having unintended consequences resulting in poor treatment of people of color?” she said. “If so, what can we do to change that?”

The county did reach a $165,000 settlement with Tillman. FOX 12 reached out to her for a comment Wednesday but have not yet received a response.

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