The Virginia NAACP said yesterday it has asked the Veterans Administration to investigate complaints of widespread discrimination against black employes at its hospital in Hampton, Va.
In a formal complaint recently filed with the VA, Jack W. Gravely, the NAACP state chairman, said that no blacks are in top administrative positions at the hospital, few have been promoted to important jobs and few have received merit raises.
The NAACP charged that there is a "systematic demotion and transferring of blacks . . . in medical supervisory positions" and said that "strong allegations were made by present and former black employes as to the arbitrary and capricious termination of black employes during their one-year probationary period."
R.E. Morris, director of the VA Medical Center in Hampton, called the NAACP complaint "misguided."
He said many of the cases that the NAACP cited had been reviewed by the Merit Systems Review Board, a separate federal agency, which did not find any discrimination.
Morris declined further comment, saying that hospital officials had investigated the charges and were preparing a detailed response that will be sent to Rufus G. Johnson, director of the VA's Office of Equal Employment Opportunities in Washington.
"Any further response should come from that office," said Morris.
The NAACP complaint was based on a preliminary investigation by the Hampton branch of the NAACP and on interviews Gravely said he conducted Oct. 25 and Nov. 1 with 10 present and former employes.
Gravely wrote that the NAACP was told that the Equal Employment Opportunities program at the hospital "does nothing." He said: "There is a concept and fact that Black folks must work in the traditional black jobs at the hospital, i.e. kitchen, building and ground jobs."
Many blacks hesitate to complain, Gravely said, because "there is a feeling on the part of many blacks of subtle intimidation if you file a complaint or speak up or speak out against what you perceive as inadequate, inefficient or unfair administration practices at the hospital."
Among the cases the NAACP outlined was that of a black firefighter who was the only applicant for a promotion, but was rejected in favor of a white male, whom the hospital sought for the position, said the complaint.