Gregory Evans, the manager of Adult and Senior Leisure Services for the Park District of Oak Park until being fired on November 18, 2005, has filed a “Charge of Discrimination” with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), alleging that he was fired because he is African-American. The EEOC will now investigate the charges.

Evans, formerly the highest-ranking and longest-tenured black employee of the park district, argues in the filing that he “was a hard-working, exemplary, and extremely productive long-term employee of the park district, with my having achieved numerous monetary and programming successes.”

“Greg’s a good guy,” Evans’ attorney David Porter said. “He did a lot of good things for Oak Park during his 21-year employment and had no disciplines during that time.”

The park district’s justification of Evans’ firing was a reorganization involving the termination of all four of its manager positions.

But Evans was the only employee fired as part of the reshuffling. In addition, Evans argues, the park district hired and promoted white employees while he, the highest-ranking black employee, was fired.

The two white managers were retained by the park district, despite what Evans calls “repeated failures,” and one of them was promoted.

“There were a lot of white individuals that had much poorer performance who continued in their employment or got promoted,” Porter said. “That’s just not right.”

Evans argues that since parks Executive Director Gary Balling was hired in 2000, he was consistently mistreated because of his race. Evans claims that in Balling’s second week on the job, the executive director told Evans he “didn’t like people who just like to be around” and asked him why he hadn’t “gone to another park district seeking employment as an executive director.”

Later, Evans contends in his filing, he was denied time off to visit a sick relative and chastised for using park district computers for personal reasons. White employees, he writes, were treated differently.

At one point, Evans claims, Balling “commented to park district staff words to the effect that black people are a different culture, with him wondering aloud whether he should get a book to understand black people.”

“I went through five years of a hostile work environment,” Evans said.

Park District Commissioner Mark Gartland said that the commission had not received a copy of the “Charge of Discrimination” and could not comment. Balling and Park Board President David Kindler could not be reached for comment.

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