by Joe Schwartz
Update: Former Director of Housekeeping Services Bill Burston "is no longer employed" by UNC as of Wednesday, a campus spokeswoman confirmed Friday. Burston was removed from his director role in June amid employee complaints and reassigned to a new role. University Mail Services Director Lea Holt was named interim. The school will begin a search for a new full-time director immediately.
PRM Consulting, the Washington, D.C., firm UNC hired in March to investigate claims of discrimination, harassment and other poor working conditions in its housing department, released 45 recommendations for change Thursday, including a new performance evaluation for managers and an audit or all new hires and promotions.
Surveys with 400 housekeeping employees revealed “a culture with employee morale issues, lack of trust and overall frustration.”
At least 30 percent or those queried disagreed or strongly disagreed that work assignments are made fairly, that management promotes an environment of respect and dignity, free of harassment, discrimination and intimidation and that management cares about the welfare of its employees.
Results were detailed to housekeepers at three closed-to-the-media meetings Thursday to cover all shifts, before the report was publicly released.
Last year, the Indy reported that housekeepers were being suspended without pay for taking their entitled breaks. Housekeepers and their supporters rallied and delivered a collective grievance to Thorp.
In June, we reported that housekeeper Amanda Hulon filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against supervisor Wade Farrington stating that he offered her a promotion in exchange for sex and touched her inappropriately.
In his memo to faculty and staff, Thorp announced 10 steps to respond to the report, among them: establishing an advisory committee of housekeeping employees, conducting a study of salaries in the department to determine possible pay discrepancies and reviewing and revising recruitment and hiring practices,
“As expected, the report makes it clear that Housekeeping Services has substantial issues that the University must address. More importantly, the report also offers a host of recommendations and potential action items that we can consider, on both a short- and long-term basis,” Thorp wrote.
“I am absolutely committed to making things right in Housekeeping Services. We have been working to fix these problems, but those sincere attempts have fallen short.”
Look for analysis and more on the consultant’s report in Wednesday’s print edition.