Human resources director who sent Cinco de Mayo meme should face discipline, N.J. union says

A union representing Salem County staff is demanding an apology and variety coaching after they are saying a county official circulated a culturally insensitive meme to staff.

On May 5, Salem County Deputy Administrator Stacy Pennington sent a message through her county e-mail account to all staff that contained a meme with the phrases “Happy Cinco De Mayo” and a photograph of a jar of mayonnaise in a sink, in accordance with a grievance filed by Joe Hiles, government vp of Communication Workers of America Local 1085.

Pennington’s “inappropriate e-mail” violated the union’s collective bargaining settlement with the county and personnel insurance policies, together with a coverage towards harassment, the grievance states. The union represents about 120 county staff.

Pennington’s different job titles with the county embody clerk of the board of commissioners, director of human resources and equal employment alternative officer, the union famous.

Given her function in human resources, Pennington should have recognized higher, Hiles stated.

The union sought an apology to staff sent by the worker communications e-mail system and posting of that apology in all county buildings for a interval of 5 days. Pennington should additionally full “acceptable variety and sensitivity coaching,” the union stated.

About half a dozen staff contacted union officers to precise dismay over the message, stated Hiles, who works for the county as a 911 dispatcher. Many others stated they have been shocked that Pennington had sent the e-mail, he stated.

In a written response to the union, Salem County Administrator Jeffrey Ridgway acknowledged that the county commissioners had reviewed the matter and determined that Pennington would subject an emailed apology to county staff and that each one staff would obtain variety and sensitivity coaching.

Pennington sent out a follow-up e-mail on May 6 by which she wrote, “Apologies to anybody who was offended by yesterday’s Happy Cinco de Mayo e-mail.”

She took no duty on this message, in accordance with Hiles.

“There have been people who, fairly frankly, took that apology as half-a—-,” he stated.

Ridgway declined to touch upon the scenario when contacted Thursday, noting that this can be a personnel matter. Pennington additionally declined to remark.

Hiles is scheduled to satisfy with Ridgway on Friday to debate the difficulty additional, together with an e-mail trade he stated Pennington had with a state worker working in a county workplace who was sad in regards to the Cinco de Mayo message, which she additionally obtained.

“One of those staff … she emailed her displeasure straight again to Stacy Pennington and there was a little bit of a banter backwards and forwards,” Hiles stated. “Ms. Pennington tried to justify that it was not offensive. She made some statements in there that have been much more insensitive in our eyes.”

In that e-mail trade, which Hiles shared with NJ Advance Media, Pennington responded {that a} majority of individuals who obtained the message stated “it makes them smile and giggle.” Making staff blissful throughout what has been a difficult time for everybody is just not an inappropriate use of a county community, she added.

Pennington described Cinco de Mayo, which commemorates Mexico’s victory over France within the Battle of Puebla in 1862, as a comparatively minor vacation in Mexico.

“In the USA, like St Patrick’s Day, Cinco De Mayo is an excuse to drink and eat unauthentic meals,” she wrote in her e-mail to the state worker.

As the talk continued, Pennington requested the girl if she was offended by Leprechauns on St. Patrick’s Day.

Pennington additionally described her shut ties to some individuals who had no downside with the meme. “And my future son in regulation is a part of the Ethnic group and so is one in all my good buddies and they didn’t discover it offensive,” she wrote.

The steps the county has taken to this point on this matter are insufficient, Hiles stated.

“There’s clearly an underlying downside that we see right here and we really feel prefer it’s not being addressed,” Hiles stated.

Several staff have expressed considerations over Pennington’s function as human resources director, Hiles stated.

“She’s the one which’s imagined to be telling us that we are able to’t say a lot of these issues. If I really feel discriminated towards or harassed at work, she’s the individual that I make the criticism to. Here she is placing forth this notion that it’s humorous and it’s not a giant deal.”

Some staff acknowledged that in the event that they have been in a social setting and somebody shared the picture, they could discover it humorous, Hiles stated.

“But this can be a individual who is the HR director. You’re the individual that’s imagined to implement that these things doesn’t occur within the office. She used a county laptop to ship it over the county e-mail server to all of the county staff.”

An common worker would face a disciplinary course of in the event that they violated office insurance policies, Hiles stated.

“I don’t really feel that she’s been disciplined in any respect by simply writing an apology. I’m not saying that she must be fired. I simply don’t really feel that my staff that I signify are assured to go to her for HR points. I feel that there must be a change not less than on the HR stage.”

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Matt Gray could also be reached at [email protected].

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