Messieurs Almeida, Langley, Metts
City Council President Leo Fontaine and members of the City Council confirmed for The Valley Breeze this week they are investigating allegations against Highway Superintendent Robert “Bob” Harnois, following complaints from those under him that Harnois has been firing racist comments at minority employees.
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A person claiming to be a witness against Harnois in the case pending before the Commission for Human Rights, said Harnois’ arrogance “knows no end” when it comes to him keeping his position with the city.
“Yes I heard the racist comments,” said the witness, who said claims accusing him of using racial slurs are “100 percent true.”
“I absolutely, positively heard them,” said the source.
Three former and current highway employees, who did not wish to be named for fear of retaliation, backed the claims in the anonymous letter, saying that on a regular basis, Harnois calls the few minority employees in the department the racist term while they work, said the workers.
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The letter accusing Harnois includes claims he is verbally abusive to workers of all races, excluding those in his “inner circle.”
But Mayor Menard had no inkling of such an attitude on Mr. Harnois’ part when she promoted him a year ago to head of the Highway Department, did she? Actually,
According to city officials, Harnois was accused a decade ago as part of a $250,000 decision against Woonsocket after another black employee, Bennie Koffa, complained of the same treatment and won a judgment.
Inasmuch as some of the alleged verbal abuse occurred over the Highway Department’s radio waves, the witness list for the Commission for Human Rights (and such other authorities as may hear this matter) may be comprised of the entire Highway Department.