Former Official Sues NAACP - BALTIMORE (AP) #civil rights

A former NAACP official is suing the civil rights group for $1 million, claiming the group's new president, Kweisi Mfume, favors younge...

A former NAACP official is suing the civil rights group for $1 million, claiming the group's new president, Kweisi Mfume, favors younger people in hiring decisions.
Janice Washington, 48, was laid off by Mfume in March. Her lawsuit is the first against the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People since Mfume became president in February.



"I do this not to harm the NAACP," Washington said. "If we're supposed to be the conscience of America and tell others they can't discriminate based on age, sex, religion and race, we have to set our own example."

The suit, filed Thursday, also accuses the the pre-Mfume NAACP of sex discrimination, with men filling "by far the best-paying jobs" while women generally carry out "exceptionally demanding day-to-day work."

Dennis Courtland Hayes, NAACP general counsel, said Washington was laid off with 14 other employees to ease the Baltimore-based group's financial crisis. He said there was no consideration of her gender and age.

Mfume, a former Maryland congressman and head of the Congressional Black Caucus, has said he plans to hire more than 20 employees by the end of 1997.

Washington, who worked for the NAACP for 27 years, said she believes she was fired in retaliation for writing letters to association officials in 1994, complaining of unequal pay.

She was paid $48,000 a year for holding two jobs, assistant director of branches and mid-Atlantic regional director. She said two male directors with less than five years experience were paid $65,000 and $56,000.

Sex discrimination accusations have dogged the nation's oldest civil rights group over the last two years.

Executive director Benjamin Chavis was fired for secretly using NAACP money to settle a sex discrimination lawsuit against him. A $2.1 million sex-discrimination lawsuit filed on behalf of about 40 women against the NAACP is pending in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C.

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