Andreza Skipworth Fired After Reporting Racial Discrimination By Rhode Island Board of Elections Director Robert Kando
BY JENNIFER BOGDAN
PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Andreza Skipworth, confidential secretary to Board of Elections Executive Director Robert Kando, has been fired — an action she claims is directly related to an unresolved discrimination complaint she filed against Kando last year.
Skipworth, who has been Kando’s secretary since 2006, said she was notified of her termination through a phone conversation with Kando on Jan. 16. No reason for the decision was given, nor did she ask what motivated the decision, she said.
Skipworth returned to the Board of Elections on Tuesday to clean out her office. Kando has not responded to a request for comment.
On Oct. 28, Skipworth filed a discrimination complaint with the Rhode Island Commission for Human Rights against Kando and the Board of Elections. In the complaint, she alleges that she has been denied a raise because she is black. Kando is white. She provided examples of people she described as less experienced employees who were not black and received raises.
Skipworth’s salary was $43,472. She said she has not received a raise since a cost-of-living increase in either 2010 or 2011.
The Commission for Human Rights said it does not comment on the existence of complaints.
The Board of Elections discussed Skipworth’s complaint in the executive session of its board meeting on Jan. 15, a day before Skipworth was fired. No public votes followed the executive session.
Kando responded to the allegations in a nine-page affidavit on Dec. 19. In it, he documented several problems with Skipworth’s performance and asserted she did not deserve a raise.
Among the issues, he noted that Skipworth circulated an “uncomplimentary email” written by an unidentified board commissioner to Kando “in an attempt to embarrass me.” He also suggested that Skipworth deliberately attempted to delay payments to candidates from the state’s matching public funds program in the 2014 election “in an effort to publicly embarrass the board.”
In the final line of his response to the commission, Kando went on to suggest that Skipworth should be fired.
“I have knowledge and information concerning other incidents of Ms. Skipworth’s unprofessional demeanor and poor job performance. Her misconduct is sufficient grounds for termination of employment,” Kando wrote.
“The only reason why Mr. Kando is now raising complaints about my disposition and inadequate job performance — most of which have been over exaggerated or fictional — is because he cannot come up with any other way of defending his bigoted actions,” Skipworth wrote on Jan. 7 in a response filed with the Commission on Human Rights.
Skipworth said she has had discussions with the commission since her termination regarding whether another charge of retaliation can be added to her existing complaint or whether she should register a second complaint.
“I just want justice. I’m not interested in money. I want my job back, and I want an apology for being mistreated,” Skipworth said in a phone interview.
In Kando’s affidavit, he stated that Skipworth was the “only minority person” who was interviewed for the job. He said he told her she would not be a union employee and she would “lack the opportunity for advancement possibilities.” He stated that he did not deem Skipworth to be the most qualified person for the job, but decided to give her the job anyway.