D.C. Council member Vincent C. Gray, who represents Ward 7, filed a discrimination complaint against the council on Friday.
Gray, 80, claims the council discriminated against him based on his age and medical status, and is in violation of the Title VII of the Civil Rights ACT and the D. C. Human Rights Act.
The formal complaint comes after Gray, who had a stroke in 2021, was removed as chair of the council’s Committee on Health late last year. Gray says he faces no long-term permanent effects from the stroke and that his removal violates the law.
“The Council’s actions speak to an issue that extends far beyond myself,” said Gray. “Our government and its officials cannot be allowed to run afoul of the Civil Rights Act or the D.C. Human Rights Act or discriminate against any person for any reason. I brought this complaint without reservation, because in doing so I hope not only to right a wrong, but to protect other individuals from similar acts of discrimination.”
Gray filed the joint complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the D.C. Office of Human Rights.
“Seldom have I seen a clearer act of discrimination,” said Tim Maloney, a lawyer on Gray’s legal team. “The D.C. Council did what no private employer could do legally in the District of Columbia. They can’t have one standard for themselves, and another standard for everyone else.”
Gray alleges Council Chair Phil Mendelson was responsible for removing Gray from his chairman role and, according to the complaint, cited Gray’s health as the sole reason for the demotion. In the complaint, Gray said he “repeatedly and unequivocally” stated he wished to remain as chairman of the health committee at a meeting at the beginning of the council period in November.
Reached for comment early Friday afternoon, Mendelson said in a statement, “I have seen the press release but not the complaint. I believe there is no basis to the allegations. The Council strongly supports the Civil Rights Act and the District’s Human Rights Act. I’m sorry Mr. Gray feels either of those laws have been violated.”
Gray is currently the chairman of a new committee on hospitals and health equity, which he claims holds no “legislative power or budgetary authority.”
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission will investigate the claim within the next 180 days.