December 12, 2006
The city of Augusta has filled a big position left vacant for six years.
The city was slow to fill this position, but many would say it's one of the most important.
Diana Darris is now responsible for making sure there's diversity in Augusta's government, and she'll make sure employee complaints are heard.
Today was only her second day on the job, and she already has lots to catch up on.
"We will look into grievances, and we will ensure that everyone is heard and that all complaints are looked into in a very thorough manner," Darris told News 12.
Darris beat out some 200 applicants for the job as Augusta's equal employment opportunity coordinator, a big post that's been vacant for six years.
Many employees say they've been without a voice for fairness during that time.
"If they have a grievance, they have a right to be heard," said Augusta mayor Deke Copenhaver. "They ought to have an advocate, and this position is that advocate for them."
Pressure to fill the position came after an investigation into the recreation department revealed dozens of city employee grievances claiming a hostile work environment, harassment, discrimination, and unfair promotional practices were never addressed or even kept on file by human resources.
HR manager Robby Burns still doesn't know why.
"I really don't know what happened to these grievances but I was never aware of most of them," he said.
So as a part of the EEO director job, commissioners have asked Darris go back and review years of complaints filed...to find out what got by...how...and if the claims warrant further investigation.
"I want a personal chance to be able to talk to the employees involved and all the constituents involved as well as the supervisor," Darris said.
It's a lot of work, but Mayor Copenhaver says it's work that'll put the city back on track.
"This way things don’t slip through the cracks," he said.
Darris will be paid just over $66,000 for the job. Commissioners have voted to place her on a 12 month probationary period at the request of Commissioner Marion Williams. He says that's just to make sure she's effective.