City employee resigns, says City moved her to new department after racial bias complaint
LAWTON, Okla. (KSWO) - A former employee of the City of Lawton said she’s without a job after filing a racial bias complaint against her director.
Katisha Wiley first spoke to the Black Wall Street Times, saying the Lawton city manager asked her to move to a different department after she filed her complaint. At the center of the issue? A permit for the City’s 2023 Juneteenth festival.
Wiley helped handle permits within the parks and recreation department. She said when she handed a permit for the Juneteenth event to department director, she was told, “Well you know Tish, if we don’t give them what they want, they’re going to use their Black card.”
Wiley had been with the City of Lawton for six years. That was until she resigned following what she said was a lack of action after her complaint.
“I sat in my car for about ten minutes, because I didn’t know what to do, but I wanted to make sure I had a clear mind on what to do next,” said Wiley.
Wiley said she reported the incident to human resources, and after three weeks with no response, she sent a follow up email on April 26. She showed 7News a photo of an email printout, which asked for an update because no one had spoken with her.
“I was told by HR they didn’t know any update and they had to call the city manager’s office. We’re completely skipping a step here. I haven’t even talked to HR,” said Wiley.
After a series of meetings with city officials, she was offered a job in a different department with higher pay. Another email printout provided by Wiley appeared to show interim City Manager John Ratliff offering her a $4,000 pay bump to move departments.
“I nicely sent him an email again to let him know, no I do not want to go, I love my team,” said Wiley.
She said after she declined she was sent another email, saying that she would be transferred anyways, which resulted in her resignation on May 12.
While the city said, “The employee accused of making a racially insensitive comment received appropriate corrective action” in a press release.
And soon after, a employee in the same department also resigned because of inappropriate comments. Kyla Christorf said a different, male employee was making sexual comments toward her, but that she felt no action would be taken because he and other higher-ups were friends with the director. It’s unclear if a formal complaint was filed.
“It’s a government entity. This shouldn’t be happening in a government entity in 2023,” said Christorf. “There is no room for racism. There’s no room for sexualized behavior in the workplace at all.”
The City disputed these claims in a Wednesday press release, saying, “What has been portrayed as a termination due to the filing of a racial bias complaint, was in fact a resignation by the former employee after being offered a higher paying position in a different department.”
“The employee accused of making a racially insensitive comment received appropriate corrective action, which has been documented and placed in her personnel file. The former employee was also briefed on what the likely corrective action in this matter would be before she resigned and did not object,” the statement continues.
“The Interim City Manager has become aware of additional allegations of racial insensitivity toward others involving the current employee. If those allegations are substantiated, then additional progressive action will be taken against the employee in accordance with Chapter 17 of Lawton City Code.”
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