The poster promoting inclusivity that Carmen Diaz believes led to her firing (Courtesy of Jose Orta)
Carmen Diaz, a Williamson County office administrator, had decorated her work station at Facilities Management in Georgetown with pride colors several times over the last three years.
Sometimes, she told the Chronicle, she sensed disapproval from her superiors, but she was never told to take the decorations down. So with pride month starting up, Diaz, a member of the LGBTQ community, put up a poster on June 13.
It was a poster she created herself, featuring a rainbow and the words: “Inclusivity: This room is a safe space. Respect for diversity! Pride is everyday. Pride is inclusive. Pride is Kindness. Pride is Judgement Free. Pride is Fun. Pride is Who We Are.”
“I laminated it at work – one poster,” Diaz said. “I hung it up. It wasn’t even up an hour when I brought the laminating machine back into the conference room and Dale pulls me into the office.”
Diaz said her supervisor, Wilco Facilities Senior Director Dale Butler, asked if she had used the laminating machine for a personal purpose. She told him yes, but that it was also for a work decoration.
“He told me to take it down and let him read it,” Baez said. “So I took it down and took it to his office. He picks it up, he reads it. And his body language shifts. And he tells me, ‘Williamson County Facilities is inclusive – and we do not need to show it.’ And I said, ‘Yes sir. I understand.’ And then he proceeded to tell me that I should be happy with the little colors that he allows me to have in my office, because he can make me take it all down and make my office black and white.” Diaz said she apologized and was told not to put the poster back on the wall.
Two days later, on June 19, Diaz learned she was being fired for using tax dollars to laminate the poster and for incidents in which she’d been late to work, which she’d corrected, she said, after being given verbal warnings. She said she appealed her firing to the county’s human resources department but they could not help her.
A Williamson County communications director told us the county does not comment on personnel decisions.
Diaz believes she was fired because she is a lesbian. She has taken her complaint to the League of United Latin American Citizens’ Jose Orta, who is advocating on her behalf, and to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, where she expects to get an interview shortly. She’s also actively searching for a new job.
In the meantime, she will be speaking out about her firing, though that causes a lot of anxiety. “I’m not going to sit here and tell you I’m not afraid,” she said. “I am scared. I mean, this is Williamson County. But I’m sure I’m not the only one who has faced this here.”
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