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Privileged Black EPA Employee Sues for Discrimination
Congressional Republicans Attack EPA's Racial Fairness
Posted Oct. 14, 2000

          In August, black EPA employee Marsha Coleman-Adebayo won a $600,000 judgment in a racial discrimination lawsuit against the EPA.  Ms. Adebayo has worked for the EPA for about 10 years, and she makes about $90,000 per year.  Her current job is described as "senior adviser to the director of the Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics."

          Her lawsuit against the agency alleged racial harassment, and included an undocumented  and specious charge that she had been called "an honorary white man" by a supervisor.  But mostly Adebayo's lawsuit seemed to focus on her undocumented allegation that she did not get the promotions to which she felt she was entitled, and her unproven assumption that the reason she did not get her preferred promotions was because of her dark skin color.

          But the story behind Ms. Adebayo’s lawsuit is much stranger than the lawsuit suggests.  Consider these facts:

EPA's Minority Hiring Record:
(Source: U.S. OPM FY 2000)

Category Civilian
Force %
% +Over hired
(-Under hired)
Blacks 6.6 18.4 +178.8%
Hispanics 4.9 4.6 -6.1%
Asian-Pacific Islanders 3.1 5.0 +61.3%
Native Americans 0.4 0.8 +100.0%
Women 49.9 49.9 0.0%

See Also: OPM FY 2000 Minority Report for additional details on minority hiring at EPA and at all federal agencies.


1. Adebayo's motivation for sueing EPA
2. Republicans attack EPA fairness
3. Other racial charges
4. Disturbing omissions from testimony
5. News Stories and Reports
6. EPA Non-Discrimination Legislation

Fact 1: The EPA is perhaps the most pro-minority, aggressive advocate of racial preferences and quotas in the federal government. The agency is headed by Carol M. Browner, a Clinton appointee, a feminist, a liberal Democrat, and a dyed in the wool promoter of racial preferences.

Fact 2: According to the Office of Personnel Management, the EPA has actually over-hired blacks to the tune of 179% percent more blacks than in the civilian workforce.  Also, according to EPA records, the overall agency work force consists of 29% minorities.

Fact 3: Since 1993 EPA has had in place an aggressive, race-based hiring and promotion policy that has achieved a 115% to 300% increase in minority jobs in the agency, according to the agency’s own statistics.

Fact 4: According to EPA official Romulo L. Diaz, since 1993, EPA has received only 623 discrimination complaints (including proven, unproven, denied, upheld, and/or settled claims) out of a total workforce of 17,000.  For reference, 623 discrimination complaints divided by 17,000 employees equals 3.67% of all employees filed a discrimination complaint against EPA.

Fact 5: The Republicans on the U.S. House Committee on Science have been using the Adebayo case, among others, to vigorously attack EPA’s record on diversity!  Republicans!  The Democrats on the committee have been complaining that the Republicans are conducting some kind of witch hunt.

Adebayo's Real Motivation

          According to EPA employees who know Ms. Adebayo, the real motivation behind her lawsuit was that EPA turned down her request to work for Jesse Jackson for a year while continuing to receive her generous EPA paycheck.

          According to Adversity.Net's sources at EPA, Ms. Adebayo had become close to Jackson, who maintains a residence in Washington, DC.  She got it in her head that EPA should pay her to leave the agency and work directly for Jackson for a year, performing unspecified duties.

          Only after EPA justifiably denied Adebayo's strange request did she file a racial discrimination lawsuit against the agency.   Neither her lawsuit nor her highly publicized testimony before the House Science Committee mentioned her bizarre request to work for Jesse Jackson while on EPA’s payroll.

          Instead, Adebayo came up with the following allegations for which no corroboration has been publicly released:

  • She alleged that she was told by a co-worker that they only reason she was allowed to participate in high level meetings was that she was "an honorary white man".
  • She alleged that she was repeatedly refused promotions due to her skin color. But she failed to offer any evidence that her "promotion refusal rate" was significantly different than that for other EPA employees. Nor did she offer any hard evidence that her lack of promotions was due to racial discrimination.
  • While working in EPA's Office of International Activities, Coleman-Adebayo, who has a doctorate in international and African development, said she was replaced by a white man with no background in Africa.  But her testimony did not specify whether her scientific and environmental credentials were superior to those of her male replacement, nor whether her job performance and personnel evaluations were better than those of her male replacement.
  • Adebayo told the House Committee that that 57% of those fired by EPA were black.  Ms. Adebayo is flat out wrong on this point.  According to an EPA official, the percentage of blacks fired by EPA for "misconduct" over all of the past 7 years is actually 67%.  The EPA’s official statistic on this point is that 112 employees of all colors were fired over the course of 7 years for "misconduct".  Over the course of 7 years, 67% of these 112 employees were black, or 75 fired individuals were black -- out of an agency workforce of 17,000 people.   This means that an average of 10.7 blacks per year were fired -- out of 17,000 EPA employees.  10.7 firings out of 17,000 equates to .06% of the total workforce. (For comparison, the total number of blacks currently employed by EPA is in the range of 3,060.)
  • Adebayo also told the House Committee that blacks make up only 18% of EPA’s workforce. BUT what she failed to mention to the committee is that in comparable jobs in the private sector, blacks make up only 6.6% of the workforce.  Thus, EPA has "over-hired" blacks by a factor of 262.7%!  These figures were provided by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.  (See especially OPM Minority Stats.)
  • In her public testimony before the House Committee, Adebayo delivered an unbelievably insensitive racial slur against the entire agency and all its workers:   She told the Committee that the EPA was a "21st century plantation".  But wait!  Adebayo is not forced to work at EPA.  She is not forced to take home $90,000 for her labors.  And she certainly is not forced to live in a shack.
  • Thus, in one fell swoop, Adebayo managed to alienate every white co-worker at the agency through her "plantation" slur.    It is small wonder that she has not received the promotions which she felt she deserved.  Was her daily demeanor on the job at EPA equally insensitive to whites and other non-minority co-workers?  This point was not addressed in her Congressional testimony.
  • In defending EPA’s commitment to racial hiring goals, EPA Administrator Carol Browner proudly told the House Committee that EPA has denied 1,262 white males and other non-minorities job opportunities and promotions to grade level 13 and above in order that preferred minorities could get those jobs.   (Browner was specifically referring to EPA hiring and promotions since 1993 for grade levels 13 and above.)
  • Neither Congress nor EPA has released Coleman-Adebayo’s performance reviews while working at the EPA. We don’t know if Coleman-Adebayo was competent, or if she had good interpersonal skills, or if she got along with her co-workers whether they were white, brown, black, red, or yellow.

U.S. House Republicans Attack EPA's Racial Fairness!

          Why have Republican U.S. Representatives loudly and publicly excoriated EPA for a poor record on minority hiring and promotions?

          Conversely, why have Democratic U.S. Representatives loudly complained that the Republicans' quest for "better minority treatment" at EPA is nothing more than a political gambit, a charade, a cynical witch hunt?

          These public statements may hold a clue:

Republicans: "While we do not expect Administrator Browner to prevent every misdeed, we do expect the administrator to ensure that appropriate disciplinary actions occur and that claims are adequately investigated. EPA managers of officials that have been found to discriminate, harass and intimidate other EPA employees or the public should be disciplined. That does not appear to happen." (Chairman of the House Science Committee F. James Sensenbrenner (R-Wis) as quoted by AP.)

Democrats: "... I do not believe the Committee has gathered sufficient information to determine whether these cases represent isolated instances of problems or are indeed evidence of widespread discrimination problems at this agency." (U.S. Representative Jerry F. Costello (D-Ill.) as quoted by AP.)

Republicans: "This administration will be going out of office in a little bit more than three months. I think it is important that you spend your personal time between now and January 20th cleaning up this mess so that the new president and whoever he appoints as EPA administrator does not get a can of garbage to start out a new administration." -- Chairman Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.), speaking to EPA Administrator Carol Browner.

Democrats: "In this venue [the House Science Committee hearings] ... I do not see the sincerity of this committee; instead, I see a political stunt that is truly regrettable in my eyes." -- U.S. Representative Bernice Johnson (D-Tex.).

NAACP: "The careers of an excessive number of black scientists and other minority employees at EPA have been unjustly devastated. Numerous cries for help to EPA officials and the EPA administrator were basically ignored." -- Leroy W. Warren Jr., chairman of the NAACP Federal Sector Task Force.

          Aren’t these roles reversed? Normally one expects Democrats to be crying wolf when a minority charges racial discrimination. Similarly one expects Republicans to be skeptical about affirmative action issues.

          And certainly it is totally out of character for the NAACP to be criticizing the EPA which is perhaps the most aggressively pro-minority, pro-quota agency in the federal government.

Racial Politics Explains All:   The explanation for this bizarre role-reversal between the parties is simple and obvious:  This is a high-stakes election year.  Republicans are attempting to gain as many minority votes, and especially as many black votes, as possible.  The House Science Committee hearings represent a strategy by Republicans to convince black voters that Democrats are not pursuing racial hiring quotas as vigorously as possible, and that the Republicans -- and by extension George W. Bush -- are the true friends of blacks while the Democrats are not.

          But Adversity.Net will be a long time trying to figure out how the House Republicans convinced the NAACP to openly criticize the EPA which has long been a strident advocate of racial quota policies.

Other Allegations of Anti-Minority Racism at EPA

          The Republican-controlled House Science Committee did not focus their hearings exclusively on star witness Marsha Coleman-Adebayo. They trotted out other disgruntled minority EPA workers.

** Black employee Anita Nickens is an environmental specialist for EPA. In tearful, heart-rending testimony before the House committee she alleged that she was ordered to clean a toilet prior to the arrival of Administrator Carol M. Browner in North Carolina in 1993. As the only black employee on the trip, Nickens is convinced she was singled out because of her skin color.

** Black Chicago EPA employee Ron Harris told the committee that he believed as a black man he was always selected to be the driver for Administrator Carol Browner on her trips to the windy city.

Disturbing Omissions during Congressional Testimony

  • Not a single soul, neither Democrat nor Republican, had the moral courage to demand an apology for the slur Ms. Coleman-Adebayo delivered when she called the EPA a "21st century plantation".
  • No one on the committee raised the issue that EPA’s aggressive racial preferences have resulted in over-hiring blacks, Asian-Pacific Islanders, Native Americans, and women according to official OPM statistics.   (See especially OPM Statistics.)
  • No one on the committee, regardless of party affiliation, questioned the underlying assumption that whites and especially white males had been deliberately denied jobs and promotions in order that the agency could achieve its 115% to 300% increase in minority "representation".
  • No one on the committee questioned Ms. Coleman-Adebayo’s job qualifications nor her work history at the EPA.
  • In fact, no one on the committee questioned the facts, the veracity or the proof of any of the complaints which were stated as fact by numerous minorities who testified.

END of EPA Discrimination Charges MAIN Page.

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*  We use the term reverse discrimination reluctantly and only because it is so widely understood.  In our opinion there really is only one kind of discrimination.