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Employee with Milwaukee County’s Behavioral Health Division files lawsuit, alleges racism

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MILWAUKEE COUNTY -- She has the most seniority on the job at Milwaukee County's Behavioral Health Division, yet Doris Ellison says Milwaukee County is ignoring her seniority and she is alleging racism.

Doris Ellison

Doris Ellison

Ellison believes she has a good case, and so do some others.

Ellison, a certified nursing assistant for Milwaukee County's Behavioral Health Division, came to the Milwaukee County Courthouse with paperwork in hand and the backing of her labor union.

"This week, the county forced her to work third shift for the first time since 1990," Dennis Hughes, with AFSCME Council 32 said.

But there is more to this story than a simple shift change.

Milwaukee County Mental Health Complex

Milwaukee County Mental Health Complex

Ellison alleges racism and officials ignoring her seniority are factors.

Ellison was working in long-term care with psychiatric patients for the county. Milwaukee County officials closed the facility and Ellison said she applied to take other first shift positions, but never got one.

"They've been hiring people off the street and giving them positions over all of us," Ellison said.

Representatives with Ellison's union say Act 10 led to Milwaukee County officials ignoring seniority.

Milwaukee County

Milwaukee County

In addition, Ellison was part of a federal decree from the 1970s called Johnnie Jones vs. Milwaukee County. In it, minority applicants who were denied county jobs and later hired could get their "back seniority."

That means Ellison, who was actually hired in 1990, has seniority dating back to 1979.

Her story was recognized by the Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors on Thursday, February 4th.

Doris Ellison

Doris Ellison

"I want to recognize someone who's with us today -- Mr. Doris Ellison. She just actually filed a lawsuit in Milwaukee County with some prejudice that's going on in our institution," Khalif Rainey, Milwaukee County supervisor said.

Milwaukee County officials have 180 days to tell Ellison what they plan to do.

A spokeswoman for Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele issued this statement to FOX6 News:

"The county executive takes allegations like this very seriously. However, we can't comment further on an active claim."

Ellison says if nothing is done, this could result in another federal lawsuit.


  • Stop Playing the Race Card

    Maybe those folks off the street are simply more qualified than her! Just because you have seniority doesn’t mean you’re necessarily the most qualified for a job in question; which is hard to say, because there is no comparison of the position requirements vs her credentials in this article, just mentioning her seniority and “other first shift” — is it the same job she’s had (but a different shift)? A different job she’s never held? Lots of info missing here. Though nowadays, everyone who can, plays the race card to get what they want.

  • .

    Affirmative action is a thing of the past. All it did was help bring america to it’s knees, time to move past the experiment.

    • linda

      These people must be white. Racism is here now and is still going on, what world do you in, Take your head out the clouds. We need affiliate action from people like you ,to think that we don’t deserve a better living just like you. It sounds like to me that you are racist.,but if the shoe was on the foot.. So if you was to get past up by another person on your corporate job ,,then what would you do ,then affirmative action comes comes into play.

  • Opinion8d

    It’s always great to see the black community supporting others to keep them enslaved. Just as Gwen Moore supports Chris Larson for County Exec, on the basis he supported a ‘living wage’ is just more evidence how little those in power care. Why not push for personal responsibility? How about getting a high school education?? How about ‘snitching’ on criminals? No, take the easy route and blame whitey and the ‘man’ for your problems. Just look at who is supporting this woman……it’s all about the race card and political power. Let the people know (education), the easier it is to manipulate them…….oh yeah, who rounded up the slaves in Africa to be sold……their own people!!!!

  • David

    I work with this woman and her co-workers. She is telling the truth!BHD has been treating alot of its high seniority employees like this. Getting rid of them right before they retire and screwing them out of money they worked for. Shame on the County!

  • FedUp

    I was just thinking today that the Majority of Black people ( I’m Black and can speak on) feel like they should get and not put in the work? Seniority is a thing of the pass, entitlement where will it end. I have worked my way through my job and they can let me go at the drop of a dime.

    • Fred

      Well stated Fedup! Your statement applies to all, and not any one specific race. It seems people in general these days feel entitled to get everything they want without working to get it.

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