Friday, November 4, 2016

NY mall security officer accused of racist comments

ROTTERDAM NY 11/4/16 — ViaPort Rotterdam management has launched an investigation after a mall employee published instances of racist comments from co-workers.
David Bertos, a mall security worker, said in a social media post that he was in a group message with other security employees when his co-workers began making racist remarks. When Bertos approached his supervisor about the comments, he said, they threatened his job.
Bertos, who has worked at the mall for about a year, said he met Tuesday with mall management, and claims they attacked his past work performance and let his co-workers off with warnings. ViaPort officials said the comments took place in a private forum separate from the mall and are being taken seriously.
“We are not excusing any behavior — we are addressing it,” said Terri Emond, the mall’s general manager. “We take this very seriously and have this under investigation.”
Emond said she was made aware of the comments on Friday, and then met with Bertos on Tuesday. She emphasized that the comments were made in a private, unsanctioned forum that isn’t affiliated with the mall. The incident involves some long-term employees who haven’t had any history of issues, she said, adding that there is no threat to mall safety.
Emond said she informed Bertos the incident was being investigated, but Bertos alleges mall managers brought up his past work performance.
“Basically they weren’t interested in discussing racism,” Bertos said in an interview.
Bertos published screenshots Tuesday night on Facebook of his conversation. Around 100 people shared the post — which initially included explicit language and the last names of the co-workers involved in the group chat — before it was taken down for failing to meet the website’s community standards.
The chat, titled “Mall Security,” shows employees making racist jokes. The chat was created by supervisors to provide a forum for communication among security staff, Bertos said.
“People shouldn’t have to go to work and worry about this stuff,” Bertos said when asked why he made the conversation public. “Especially a job like this where we’re serving the public.”
Comments include racial slurs, and references to white power.
“I’m Jewish, so the white power comments strike close to home for me,” Bertos said.
When Bertos responds that he’s “getting fed up” with the comments, others appear to apologize and then ask him not to escalate the issue.
“You can bring this to management, if you so desire, but it’ll will (sic) do no good, it’s a private group with the reasonable expectation of privacy covered under 1st amendment,” one employee wrote.
ViaPort Rotterdam posted to its Facebook page around 8:30 Tuesday night saying it does not condone “racial behavior” and is an equal opportunity workplace, adding that management would conduct a full investigation into the matter.

At about 11 a.m. on Wednesday, that ViaPort post was deleted after it received about 20 comments. Emond said the investigation could be wrapped up by the end of the week.
Daily Gazette 

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