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Southern Poverty Law Center, which often targets conservatives, roles, sexual harassment, intolerance claims

connectVideoSPLC fire founder Morris Dees for misconduct

In the midst of a departure of top executives in the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), a new report details allegations of sexual misconduct and racial discrimination against those persons in the progressive non-profit that is often targeted conservative groups.

A report from the New York Times on Monday detailed several complaints from both the current and former employees that indicated a “climate of intolerance” in the workplace — complaints including sexual harassment and a lack of diversity on the basis of race and gender.

In the past few years, the center has the criticism of Republicans and conservatives who have accused the SPLC of unfairly labeling people and groups with conservative views as fanatics. Republican legislators have also questioned the relationship between the SPLC and the FBI.

On Friday, SPLC President Richard Cohen (left) announced that he would resign from the civil rights organization, in the midst of the controversy. It came after co-founder Morris Dees was fired over “inappropriate behaviour”.
(AP/Getty, File)

On Friday, SPLC President Richard Cohen announced that he would resign from the civil rights organization, in the midst of the harassment and the diversity allegations.

“We are going through a difficult period now, and I know that we emerge stronger at the end of the process that we have started with Tina Tchen,” he said, speaking of the Chicago-based lawyer and a former chief of staff of the former first lady Michelle Obama, who is doing a review of the non-profit.

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“Given my long period as the SPLC president, however, I don’t think I would be involved in that process together with Tina, her team and the board of directors in a way that can be useful.”

Cohen’s departure came just a week after the organization dismissed co-founder Morris Dees.

While the SPLC is not in details in Dees’ ousting from the Times report pointed to several factors.

About two dozen employees reportedly signed a letter “allegations of mistreatment, sexual harassment, discrimination, and racism are a threat to the moral authority of this organization, and our integrity.”

The report stated that several women on the staff had already been warned about the fact that only with Dees and those two specific incidents led to his eventual termination.

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A 2017 complaint against the 82-year-old claimed that Dees a female employee uncomfortable by touching her shoulder and asks about her visible tattoos, and asks her to contact human resources. Dees denied any wrongdoing but acknowledged the complaint.

A second complaint was filed against the Dees but the nature of that statement was unknown.

In a statement to Fox News, the SPLC said Dees was fired after the second study.

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“As a result of a prior examination, the Board of Directors disciplined the Lord Dees for inappropriate behavior. After additional behaviors and additional research, Mr. Cohen, with the support of the Board of Directors, terminated Mr. Dees’ on the labour market.”

A spokesman said that if an organization who identifies as a defender of human rights, “the SPLC is committed to ensuring that the conduct of our staff is a reflection of the mission of the organization and the values that we hope to bring in the world. When one of our own failure to meet these standards, regardless of his or her role in the organization, we take it seriously and must take appropriate action.”

The SPLC problems stretched further than the allegations of sexual harassment.

The Times reported that several employees were subjected to a “racially insensitive comments” and that some of the staff were pushed aside because of their skin color — will eventually affect their pay and progression within the organisation.

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Dana Vickers Shelley, a former employee who resigned, said the SPLC was not “trying to be diverse in terms of reflection of the people they serve.”

Bryan Fair, the president of SPLC’s board of directors, said she found the accusations “very seriously.”

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“The events of the last week are a clear reminder of the fact that the walk in the direction of justice must start at your own front door. We recognize and take seriously the important to make sure that our talented and committed employees, and we are committed to listening more, owner where we have failed to live up to our own standards and values, and making any changes at the conclusion of this process to ensure that the Centre’s interpretation and enforcement of them.”

In addition to Dees and Cohen, a deputy director of the legal left, right, left, about gender and race equity.

Fox News’ Louis Casiano contributed to this report.

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