Speed Reads

'hostile'

Foundation planning the U.S. 250th anniversary commemorations accused of discrimination

Four female executives who resigned from the nonprofit tasked with planning the official commemoration of the U.S.'s 250th anniversary have accused the foundation of fostering a "hostile and discriminatory workplace" and dismissing "concerns about a male employee's questionable expenditures," The Wall Street Journal reports.

Though the resignations were separate, all four women "expressed similar concerns in resignation letters or interviews," writes the Journal.

When a lawyer for the nonprofit — the America250 Foundation — threatened Renee Burchard, one of the four, with legal action should she violate her obligations to the organization, the women together obtained a Washington lawyer with discrimination experience.

In her resignation letter, Burchard alleged that Jesse Askew, the vice president of branding and marketing, committed a fireable offense but was not terminated because of his race, the Journal writes. She wrote that executives decided not to fire Askew, who is Black, because "A250 doesn't need that public relations issue right now because of Jesse's race." When another Black employee was slated to join the organization, Burchard quoted then-interim president as suggesting the new hire fire Askew because "when a black guy fires a black guy, then it's not that bad and would be viewed differently."

"I don't want to work somewhere that uses someone's race as a factor when suggesting or assigning duties," she wrote.

She added that Askew in November allegedly filed "$30,000 worth of unauthorized invoices to be paid in FY22," the letter said.

In her September resignation letter, former vice president of programs and planning Anna Laymon, also one of the four, said her time at America250 was "typified by increasing bouts of organizational instability and mismanagement."

"Greater still," she continued, "there are still no women in any of the most important positions of power and influence at America250."

A foundation spokesman told the Journal there are women in senior roles.