PEMBROKE — Three people have filed complaints against the town of Pembroke, including two who say they were discriminated against in the workplace. The third person says she was not hired by the town because she is black.
Kecia McRae, Jennifer Dial and Dwayne Hunt each filed a discrimination complaint with the Robeson County chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People on Oct. 9. The town was served with the complaints on Tuesday, according to Renea Stackhouse, president of the organization.
McRae, who had applied for a position in the communications office of the Pembroke Police Department in July, was told she was not hired for the job because she is black, according to her complaint. McRae said that during her interview with Town Manager Oryan Lowry, he twice refused to shake her hand.
Jennifer Dial, who worked as the Police Department’s director of Communications, was replaced in her position in September. At the time, Lowry told The Robesonian that Dial’s replacement was “a transition that was mutual on all parties,” and that she was being replaced because of an ongoing illness that had caused her to miss work. In her complaint, Dial said the information in the article was incorrect.
“… There was no reason behind my demotion except for the fact that I was being retaliated against for wanting to hire an African American female (Kecia McRae), and also that I am a female that was not wanted in that position any longer because of differences between myself, the Town Manager Oryan Lowry and town Councilman Ryan Sampson,” Dial said in the complaint.
Assistant Police Chief Dwayne Hunt, a 24-year-employee of the department, was suspended for three days without pay in August. Lowry has cited confidentiality laws in saying he could not tell what led to the suspension.
Hunt served as the assistant police chief under Police Chief Frank Hernandez, who retired in June. Detective Sebastian Veneziano was named interim chief, and in September police Sgt. Grant Florita took over that position. The town has not yet named a permanent chief.
“I was passed over for the job as chief, and was told that I would not get the job because of a complaint written against city Councilman Ryan Sampson,” Hunt’s complaint reads.
Lowry said on Friday that he had been out of the office for most of this week and was unaware of the discrimination complaints. Lowry said Stackhouse had left a message on his answering machine asking him to return her call, but her message did not mention any complaints against the town.
“We’ve been playing phone tag for the past couple of days,” he said.
Stackhouse said that the organization will begin its investigation into the claims by gathering information from all parties involved, and seek advice from the state conference of the NAACP.
“What we’ve done is asked for a meeting with the town manager and I’m hoping he will schedule that meeting, but of course he doesn’t have to,” Stackhouse said. “It’s up to them if they cooperate.”