Chicago’s Department of Water Management said Monday it's taking action against employees it alleges are responsible for what some have called a toxic work environment.
The department issued a statement saying, “as part of the ongoing investigation by (Office of the Inspector General), the department initiated disciplinary action against three employees. One resigned and the disciplinary process is ongoing for the other two.”
The action comes in the wake of a federal lawsuit filed in the summer of 2017 alleging a long-standing and wide ranging pattern of racial discrimination inside the department--especially at the Sawyer purification plant on the city’s South Side.
"Personally, I feel a little bit less than a man than I am when I have to be talked to disrespectfully," said Derrick Edmond, who is suing for discrimination. "Especially after 33 years and an impeccable work record."
Since the suit was filed, Chicago has replaced its water commissioner and initiated new policies against discrimination.
"We are trying to create a culture of inclusiveness here, so people know that they are welcome here, they can work here," said the water management department's Comissioner Randy Conner.
But as recently as this month, aldermen heard from other department employees who say discrimination still exists.
The lawyer representing department employees says the city hasn’t gone far enough.
But earlier this month, Conner said he initiated a zero-tolerance policy against workplace discrimination--one the department says that is evidenced by Monday's disciplinary actions.
"It doesn’t matter what your sex is, what your race is, what your religion is, you are more than welcome to work at the Department of Water Management," Conner said.