Austin civil rights director resigns over mistreatment complaints

The inaugural director of Austin’s Civil Rights Office reportedly submitted her resignation this week, several months after multiple city employees filed complaints about alleged workplace mistreatment. 

Carol Johnson was originally chosen to be the head of Austin’s newly formed Civil Rights Office in January 2021. 

The department was created by the city council months earlier to be a “centralized entity to enforce civil rights anti-discrimination ordinance and federal statutes.” 

She was placed on administrative leave last summer amid allegations of workplace mistreatment and retaliation, then submitted her resignation on Wednesday, according to KXAN

“Carol was instrumental in establishing the City’s Office of Civil Rights as the first Civil Rights Director,” assistant city manager Veronica Briseño wrote in a memo this week, according to the local news outlet. “I want to thank her for her service to our community and this organization.”

Six employees in the Office of Civil Rights originally filed complaints last April that accused Johnson of ignoring COVID-19 safety protocols during a surge of infections and placing unreasonable demands on work performance, the Austin American-Statesman reports. 

The city hired an outside law firm to conduct an investigation, which concluded that her “lack of management and communications skills and disinterest in people and their work activities seems misaligned to fundamentally build any programs to accomplish any goals that may be established,” according to the local newspaper. 

Johnson could not immediately be reached for comment on Sunday. She previously challenged several of the complaints against her, telling the city that the employees had a history of behavioral issues in the workplace, the Statesman reports. 

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