The woman who is in charge of ensuring that Virginia's state government is free of any racial or sexual biases today accused her boss of discriminating against her on racial grounds.
"Ironic would be one way to characterize it," said attorney D. Patrick Lacy Jr., who filed a discrimination lawsuit on behalf of Maya Hasegawa, manager of Virginia's equal employment opportunity office. A Japanese American, Hasegawa contends she was denied a $27,380-a-year post in the state agency because her boss wanted to hire a less-qualified black.
Her supervisor, Kenneth B. Yancey, the state's top personnel officer, has been under fire for allegedly lax enforcement of state and federal job bias. Critics have contended that Yancey passed over Hasegawa for a black applicant to combat image problems Gov. John N. Dalton's administration has had with blacks. Yancey and Dalton have denied the allegations.
The agency's image problems came to light last summer when Dalton's own Equal Employment Opportunity Committee questioned the state's commitment to minority hiring and claimed it had been given "low priority" by Dalton's top administrators. State personnel records show whites predominate in administrative positions in most Virginia agencies while large numbers of blacks hold janitorial and other menial, low-paying duties.
Yancy also has been accused of cronyism and political favoritism in his own hiring practices. He recently appointed a friend and former personnel colleague, Paul Thompson, to a $39,100-a-year post and gave the fiance of top Dalton aide Larry E. Murphy a part-time summer job. In a recent confidential survey, one employe called Yancey's department "the most unprofessional working environment that I have ever encountered."
Employes also have alleged favoritism and racial discrimination in Yancey's hiring last April of Elsie G. Holland to be director of the Equal Opportunity and Hasegawa's immediate superviser. A prominent Richmond Republican, Holland previously had been an education professor at Virginia Union University but had no training or previous experience in personnel management or equal oportunity programs.
Hasegawa, who has worked for the department's EEO office for more than five years and has been office manager for two, contends in her suit that Yancey told her she was qualified and capable of doing the director's job but that he wanted to hire "someone black." She contends she was "maliciously and intentionally" discriminated against because of her race and is seeking $275,000 in damages.
She also has filed a discrimination complaint against Yancey with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
Yancey's office said today he would have no comment on the suit because he had not had an opportunity to see it. In responding to Hasegawa's EEOC complaint last week, Yancey conceded that "race and sex were factors in the selection of Dr. Holland, but her credentials speak for themselves."
Citing Holland's background as an educator as well as her work in politics and civil rights, Yancey concluded she "is uniquely qualified to manage our equal employment opportunity and employment practices programs. That is the reason she was chosen."
Dalton and Yancey also have denied allegations of cronyism in state hiring practices. Yancey said that employes who responded negatively in a recent department survey were upset because he has been making large-scale changes in the agency and the state personnel system as a whole.
The survey and the critical report by the governor's EEO Committee were classified as confidential until The Washington Post printed excerpts from each in news articles last summer. After the articles appeared, Yancey issued a memo to employes threatening "immediate termination" of anyone caught leaking such reports.