Roberto Eduardo Leon, the Montgomery County employe who obtained minority status after changing his name from Robert E. Lee, yesterday lost that minority designation as a result of a decision by County Executive Charles W. Gilchrist.
From now on, any employe wishing to change an ethnic designation will be judged by an employes' committee, which will make recommendations to the government's chief administrative officer the final arbiter in the matter.
Leon 56, a retired Navy captain who works in the Department of Environmental Protection's pollution control division, legally changed his name Feb. 21. Subsequently, he was reclassified at his own request from white male to Hispanic by Peter Chen, the county's director of employe relations.
Although some of his friends still fall him "Bob Lee," his new status made him eligible for promotion over other white males. He has applied for two jobs recently, was rejected for one and hasn't heard about the other.
Gilchrist acted on advice him from the county attorney and recommendations from the employes' Affirmative Action Council. Under his ruling, any employe requesting a change in status must submit a written request with documentation substantiating the reasons and a sworn affidavit certifying its accuracy.
The review board will base its decision on "the degree to which the employe appears to belong identifies with or is regarded in the community as belonging" to a particularly racial or ethnic group.
Leon said yesterday, "It appears there are no objective methods for making a decision. This is subjective, and I thought government was to run by objective means . . . the hard evidence is that I have a Spanish grandfather . . . All I want equal opportunity."
I think the only status he has definately achieved is a certain quasi-celebrity status," said Leon's boss, Eric Mendelsohn.