Roiled by Staff Uproar, Civil Rights Group Looks at Intolerance Within
Mr. Dees’s firing ended a career studded with successes but shadowed by questions of sexual misconduct and racism. The center’s president, Richard Cohen, and other senior leaders recently said they would follow Mr. Dees out the door.
Although the center has refused to detail the circumstances behind Mr. Dees’s firing, it said it had dismissed its 82-year-old co-founder after he was twice investigated for “inappropriate conduct.” Both inquiries, the organization suggested, led to discipline.
Mr. Dees has denied wrongdoing, but he acknowledged that he was the subject of a 2017 complaint made by a female employee who said his actions had made her feel uncomfortable.
Current and former employees said Mr. Dees’s dismissal was only part of the turbulence rattling a social justice organization afflicted by morale issues, staff turnover and a sense that the center has not embraced the values that it champions across the country.
Inside The Southern Poverty Law Center’s Sexism, Racism Controversy
Two weeks ago, the co-founder of the Southern Poverty Law Center (a left-wing organization ostensibly painted as a civil rights group) was fired for undisclosed reasons. A week later, we learned the firing occurred as employees within the organization alleged racism and sexism. A few days after that, the president of the organization resigned.
Now we have an inside look at the turmoil within the center, thanks to The New York Times, whose reporters spoke to current and former employees, board members, and “close observers,” and who also reviewed “internal documents and public records.” One has to read through paragraphs of glowing praise for the center as a “civil rights group” and its monitoring of “the radical right” without any pushback or questioning about what it considers “the radical right,” but there is good information in the piece.
It turns out the ex-co-founder, Morris Dees, was investigated on two separate occasions for “inappropriate conduct” and was disciplined each time. He also appears to have a reputation for sexual harassment in the organization.