Philly NAACP challenges SEPTA to fix 'toxic work environment'

Cherri Gregg
September 26, 2019 - 2:22 pm
Philadelphia NAACP President Rodney Muhammad and former SEPTA employee Tera Bryant address reporters outside SEPTA headquarters.

Cherri Gregg/KYW Newsradio

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — The Philadelphia NAACP is hoping to enlist the help of Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf in its quest to get SEPTA to deal with what the group calls a "toxic work environment." 

"We are not going back home until we get justice," said chapter President Rodney Muhammad at a press conference Thursday outside of SEPTA headquarters. 

For the past 18 months, the organization has advocated on behalf of 160-plus workers, most of them African-American, who say they've been harrassed, retaliated against and treated with hostility by low-level SEPTA supervisors before being terminated. Muhammad says the NAACP met with SEPTA, then took grievances to the EEOC and state officials, but no action was taken.

Related: Philly's NAACP president, former employees call SEPTA 'very toxic environment'

"Because we can find no elected official in Harrisburg that has the guts to hold hearings on SEPTA, I am going to be appealing to our governor," said Muhammad.

He said the state attorney general looked at the case but so far has not found enough evidence to proceed. The NAACP is now planning a demonstration in the coming days.

"I've been out of work for over two years and I've been doing Uber and Lyft. I shouldn't have to be having to survive like this," said Tera Bryant, a former SEPTA employee of eight years.

Bryant says she worked first as bus driver then a cashier. The issues started after she had knee replacements. She complained when paperwork was misfiled and she was fired. She wants to work again.

"If I don't get my job back," said Bryant, "I just want to make this a better work environment for folks that are still here."

SEPTA released the following statement: 

"SEPTA is committed to promoting diversity in all levels of its workforce and in all facets of the organization. We are dedicated to ensuring fair treatment for all employees, and take seriously any claims regarding racism, employee abuse or unfair termination. SEPTA has met previously with Philadelphia NAACP President Rodney Muhammad, and we would welcome the opportunity to have further discussions with him regarding his concerns."