Hmong CFO files discrimination complaint against Marathon County Credit Union


This story was originally published by Wausau Pilot & Review.

A resident of Marathon Hmong County told county board members last week that workplace harassment and prevalent racism resulted in the loss of his job at a local credit union.

Kham T. Yang, a financial executive who has lived in Marathon County since 2007, said he was negotiating a settlement with his former employer over his July 2019 layoff. The equal rights division of the department Wisconsin Workforce Development Department confirmed the complaint and shared the status of the matter with Wausau Pilot & Review.

Jennifer Sereno, director of communications at the DWD, acknowledged the complaint and said an Equal Rights Division investigator made a split decision on the matter, finding in favor of Yang on the racial harassment allegations but in favor of the credit union on the allegations of discrimination. dismissal from his job.

“” Probable cause “with respect to the parts of the complaint alleging harassment based on race and national origin and” No probable cause “with respect to the parts of the complaint alleging discriminatory dismissal on the basis of race, origin and retaliation, ”Sereno told Wausau Pilot. & Review.

In his complaint, Yang alleges that at least three times, members of the credit union refused to work with him because “they didn’t like the Asian.” These cases, dating back to 2019, are detailed in the complaint.

“I informed senior management about the discrimination and each time I was told to get rid of it,” Yang’s official complaint read. “Ultimately, (the credit union) embraced member discrimination like its own by not preventing the
discrimination and ultimately firing me because I complained about discrimination and because (the credit union) was concerned that members would work with me because of my race and ethnicity.

Sereno said Yang appealed the “No probable cause” finding. The next step, she said, is a hearing on the question of the probable cause of these findings.

The hearing was set for January 2022 and would become unnecessary if the credit union and its former employee reached a settlement.

“At any time during the process, the parties can discuss a settlement,” Sereno said.

Yang said the financial institution offered to pay his attorney’s fees instead of dropping the case, while he asked for differences in wages lost since being fired in July 2019. Now employed , Yang had been unemployed for six months. Wausau Pilot & Review was unable to verify the negotiation aspect of a settlement.

Yang, during the public comment portion of the Marathon County Supervisory Board meeting last week, said his experience underscores the need for the county to send a message of inclusion and diversity.

This was the second time that Yang had spoken publicly about the allegations. On September 29, he shared his story with the County Diversity Affairs Commission and a few days later with Wausau Pilot & Review. He said he was fired for complaining to his supervisors about “racist remarks” from a relative of the CEO of the credit union.

“This is exactly why we need the ‘Community for All’ resolution,” Yang told Wausau Pilot & Review. “It’s because we don’t have that kind of resolve that people get away with racism.”

The proposed community diversity for all resolution failed at a county supervisory board meeting in August.

Now Yang says he intends to leave the county – and has said his move is a direct result of the racism he has personally experienced.

“I’m moving my family… Marathon County is very racist,” Yang told supervisors Thursday. On some occasions, he has cried while speaking publicly about the discrimination in the workplace that he says he suffered.

Yang, referring to discussions about the failure of the CFA’s resolution, said he was surprised by the remarks of some supervisors and their denial of racism in the county.

“A supervisor said ‘We haven’t experienced racism (in Marathon County),’” Yang said Thursday. “I’m glad you’ve never experienced racism, but what about us who are told: go back to where you came from?”

Yang then filed a complaint with the Equal Rights Division of the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development as well as the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions.

Yang told Wausau Pilot & Review that his dismissal and the period of unemployment that followed caused emotional and financial hardship for his family.

Wausau Pilot & Review does not name the credit union until the matter is fully resolved.

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