After being subject to a series of warnings and suspensions for insubordination and other poor work performance, the city’s first racial equity coordinator appears to be holding onto her job by a thread.
Toriana Pettaway was issued a “last chance notice” on April 1, the day she returned to work from a 10-day unpaid suspension she was given after refusing to complete a five-day paid leave and a “constructive action contract” that would have required her to admit fault and come up with ways she could improve her performance.
The letter and other documents were released Thursday to the Wisconsin State Journal under the state’s public records law. Pettaway did not respond to requests for comment.
Beginning in May of last year, Pettaway has been accused of infractions including failing to finish work on time; disobeying a rule against contacting city officials or the media without the approval of her boss, Department of Civil Rights Director Norman Davis; being disrespectful to colleagues; failing to notify Davis of where she was during the workday; and using inappropriate “tone and grammar” in her communications to others.
Most recently, in February, she showed up late for a training she wasn’t supposed to be conducting because she was serving a three-day suspension, Davis wrote in a March 12 disciplinary letter.
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Pettaway has said she was being singled out and not given the resources to do her job, and accused city officials of retaliating against her for deciding to run for mayor last year against former Mayor Paul Soglin. Pettaway, who is black, has complained to Davis, who is also black, that she’s been “marginalized” as a black female working in his office.
At a March 11 hearing, according to Davis’ March 12 letter, Pettaway used an expletive in denying she should be held accountable for work violations. She also reportedly said she was “coming for every man, woman, Department Head and your Mayor,” and that while she wanted to keep her job, she could not work for Davis.
In February, she told the State Journal that she had to “have an attorney to protect myself.”
Davis declined to comment on Pettaway’s current performance or her allegations against him.
Pettaway is paid $83,377 a year and was hired in October 2015 to develop, administer and implement citywide policies and procedures on racial equity and social justice.
On March 20, two days into her 10-day suspension, she started an online fundraiser to “help me cover the bills for this month.” As of Thursday, it had brought in $425 of an $8,663 goal.