NAACP Executive Director Benjamin Chavis says he won't quit his job, as some NAACP officials are demanding, and that his critics are trying to use his settlement of a sex discrimination claim to get rid of him.
"I have no intentions of resigning from the NAACP. I've been a member since I was 12 years old," Chavis said Thursday. "I've done nothing wrong."But Chavis' critics said the settlement, worth about $332,000, indicated irresponsible spending habits that have put the nation's oldest civil rights group $2.7 million in the red.
"He's not dealing with the institution going under. He's not following any rules," said board member Leroy Warren. "He's running loose. Every time you look up, he's doing damage control."
Chavis attempted to defend himself before NAACP members, supporters and critics who say he should either step down or be removed from office for using NAACP money to negotiate the settlement with a former employee, Mary E. Stansel.
Chavis committed the NAACP to paying Stansel up to $82,400 while he tried to find her an $80,000-a-year job. He promised an additional $250,000 if no job was found.
Stansel sued Chavis and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People in June, contending Chavis reneged on their settlement, which was reached last November without the knowledge of the NAACP's 64-member board of directors.
The suit said the settlement was reached to avoid a complaint by Stansel before the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission alleging employment discrimination, sex harassment and wrongful discharge. It did not specify the nature of the claims by Stansel, who worked as Chavis' special assistant for about a month.
Chavis gave reporters a letter from a lawyer who helped negotiate the settlement that warned Stansel that she had no basis for accusing Chavis of sexually harassing her.
In the July 7 letter, Selma, Ala., attorney Rose M. Sanders said sexual discrimination, not harassment, "was a claim raised and resolved" in the settlement. She instructed Stansel to delete sexual harassment from the breach of contract lawsuit she filed against Chavis in late June. Stansel refused.