In March, Tashika Thomas, a VA employee and union president at Bay Pines VA Medical Center, took to her personal Facebook page and wrote “F—ing White Privilege.”
The expected groundswell of outrage developed and Bay Pines put out a statement, saying “the Facebook post is contrary to VA’s core values and is unacceptable.”
But two months later Thomas still has her job.
On Thursday, Bay Pines director Suzanne Klinker provided us with the following statement:
Bay Pines VA Healthcare System does not condone or tolerate such unacceptable and offensive comments from any of our employees. That’s why we conferred with human resources and personnel law officials about this matter. VA leaves these decisions up to local facility leaders, and after weighing all the facts and circumstances, I have decided we will counsel the employee to ensure she avoids such conduct going forward.”
– Suzanne M. Klinker, Director, Bay Pines VA Healthcare System
The statement comes amid controversy surrounding racially-charged Facebook posts.
On Wednesday, ABC swiftly dropped the ax on Roseanne Barr, canceling her show following her racist tweet about Obama adviser Valerie Jarret. Re-runs of Barr’s old show are also being pulled from other networks.
“This is a racial, ‘Me too’ moment, isn’t it,” author Michael Eric Dyson told NBC News. “This is a particular moment where you’re race baiting and you’re bigotry and your violent racism have to be taken into account and things are changed.”
But has anything changed at the Department of Veteran’s Affairs?
Benjamin Krause, a disabled veteran, attorney and veteran’s advocate says the agency’s two-month silence about Thomas’ post is alarming.
“I think by dragging it out they absolutely leave other individuals to believe that the agency has a double standard,” Krause said. “We don’t know if the difference in how she [Thomas] is treated relates to race, whether it relates to gender, we don’t know if its because she’s aslo an A.F.G.E. official.”
Krause noted the department’s swift disciplinary action in response to a similar situation against an employee in Rhode Island who also happened to be a combat veteran. That employee was demoted from his supervisory position.
“My post to my personal page are just that, my personal opinions and experiences,” Thomas told me after her post surfaced.
Documents obtained by Krause show some VA officials also found her remarks repugnant.
“This gives the VA a black eye and nobody benefits from the VA looking bad and from VA employees not being held accountable,” said Krause.
When reached by telephone, Thomas said she wasn’t able to talk because she was at work. She requested I call her after 5 p.m. I did, but she did not answer.
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