Rep. Emilia Sykes asks Gov. John Kasich to get involved in mediation over discrimination complaint
COLUMBUS, Ohio – An Akron Democrat who said security around Capitol Square has stopped and questioned her as she’s entering state buildings sent a letter to Gov. John Kasich, asking him to get involved.
Specifically, Rep. Emilia Sykes wants Kasich, a Republican, to force his departments of Public Safety and Administrative Services into mediation with her to resolve her gender discrimination and racial bias complaints before the Ohio Civil Rights Commission.
“I, like other African American women, have experienced unfair treatment and discrimination at Statehouse security checkpoints,” she wrote in a Tuesday latter to the governor.
There is no word yet from Kasich’s staff about how he’ll respond.
Sykes filed the complaints with the Civil Rights Commission last month over several incidents – dating back to 2016 and as recent as May – in which she was stopped by police officers or contract security guards, despite having an official state badge in many instances. In addition to the two agencies under Kasich, the complaint is against the Ohio House of Representatives and the Capitol Square Review and Advisory Board.
Rep. Emilia Sykes files racism, sexism complaints with Ohio Civil Rights Commission over state building security allegations
“I have tried to work with DPS Director John Born and the Ohio State Highway Patrol (OSHP), but they have yet to even acknowledge issues of discrimination,” Sykes wrote, “let alone offer an apology to me and other Black women who have experienced unfair scrutiny and treatment which raises a bigger question: If credentialed elected officials are being treated differently because of our skin color and/or gender, how are citizens being treated by the Highway Patrol at their statehouse and on their highways?”
The Ohio Highway Patrol was cleared of bias after an investigation. But Sykes noted the patrol investigated itself and it was inevitable that it would not find any problems.
Mary Turocy, a spokeswoman at the Civil Rights Commission, could not comment about the status of Sykes’ complaint because it’s considered confidential. But she said if parties don’t agree to mediation, an investigator starts a probe.
Sykes said all the agencies denied her request for mediation in statements they filed with the commission Aug. 16.
“I respectfully urge you to compel your DPS director and DAS director to reconsider mediation,” Sykes wrote to Kasich. “Not only would this avenue save taxpayers significant time and money by sidestepping a full (Civil Rights Commission) investigation, but by working together we can build long-lasting results and a deeper understanding of each other to make sure everyone feels welcome in our state.”
The investigator must finish the work within a year and submit it to the full Civil Rights Commission, which must consider whether there’s probable cause to transfer the case to its attorneys at the Ohio Attorney General’s office. The attorneys would pursue the case similar to a prosecutor before an administrative law judge with the commission.
The commission’s goal would be to look for remedies to ensure future discrimination doesn’t occur.
Governor Kasich Letter (PDF) Governor Kasich Letter (Text)