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D.C. political activist Deborah Royster has had a busy week. On Tuesday, the news broke that she was out of a job as a Democratic National Committeewoman for the District. Royster cited the competing demands of her job as deputy general counsel for Pepco Holdings.
What didn’t get mentioned is that Royster is also in the middle of suing the utility over discrimination and retaliation.
The lawsuit, filed in D.C. Superior Court on September 12, alleges that Royster was passed over for a promotion because she alerted her superiors to “inappropriate and potentially unwelcome” sexual relationships between two attorneys and female administrative support staff. The attorneys were fired in 2009, and one of them sued Pepco, resulting in $1 million worth of attorneys fees for Pepco, according to the complaint. The complaint describes how a human resources executive, allegedly pissed off at Royster for her whistleblowing, picked a white guy instead of Royster for a vice president job that she considered herself in line for.
Are sexism, racism, and retaliation to blame for executive-level Pepco drama? Royster wants a jury to decide.
At the very least, the suit adds some perspective to Royster’s argument that she didn’t quit her Democratic post so much as request a “temporary absence due to the current demands of my employment.”
That request remains the subject of considerable insidery intrigue. Royster had missed three consecutive meetings, which put her out of compliance with Democratic National Committee bylaws. But in subsequent intraparty e-mails, she claimed that she had requested a “temporary absence,” and would appeal the decision to remove her. According to Royster, she could be reinstated within 30 days she was if re-certified by the D.C. Democratic State Committee.
But now it seems that someone else wants her job, and a powerful pol isn’t so keen on re-certifying Royster, who’s also the Ward 4 Democrats’ chairwoman.
Last night, Councilmember Vince Orange weighed in on an e-mail thread to say that the DCDSC had voted to tell the DNC that it would select the alternate committeewoman, Estell Mathis-Lloyd, to replace Royster. Mathis-Lloyd, as it happens, is Orange’s chief of staff.