SAN JOSE, Calif. - A Bay Area homeless services provider is being accused of toxic work environments, particularly with its Black employees. Now the Silicon Valley chapter of the NAACP is getting involved.
Thomas, Jr. says he worked for Home First for five years but was fired in August. He says at least three clients attacked him while at work for asking them to follow parking rules. Thomas says another employee tried to help him and Home First has the incident on surveillance video.
"Why did you fire me? You can’t even see anything. I’m in and out. How am I in and out when I’m on the ground? It doesn’t fit the story. It makes me mad, and it makes me uncomfortable," Thomas, Jr. said.
Home First provides services, shelter, and housing for homeless people in the Bay Area. Thomas believes he and other Black employees at the Home First shelter in Sunnyvale have been treated unfairly and asked the San Jose--Silicon Valley NAACP to investigate the firings.
"It just seems like the Black employees are being fired for doing some of the same things that white employees are not being fired for, and who are given other training. That’s part of the problem," said Rev. Jethroe Moore, San Jose/Silicon Valley NAACP President.
Home First released a statement, saying in part: "We have invited the former employees to waive their privacy rights and publicly make their employee files available, allowing us to refute their tenuous claims more publicly. We believe these files reinforce Home First’s justified reasons for the terminations."
Moore says they’re considering a lawsuit, but more importantly, he’d like to see local governments get involved.
"We’re expecting the City of San Jose, the City of Sunnyvale, and the County of Santa Clara to no longer fund Home First. If the Black homeless population is the highest, you’re firing Black people who are best suited to work with our people," Moore said.
Home First denies these allegations and also says that 70% of their 450 employees are people of color, 14% of them identifying as Black.
Moore says they plan to present their findings in front of the San Jose City Council on Tuesday.