Jun 23, 2022 - News

Dallas Arboretum board asked to investigate work environment

Ladies taking photos of a sculpture and flowers

The Dallas Arboretum is one of the most beloved places in North Texas. Photo: Dan Tian/Xinhua via Getty Images

Two local LGBTQ+ advocacy groups have asked the board of the Dallas Arboretum to investigate allegations of workplace discrimination raised by current and former employees.

Driving the news: Leaders from Equality Texas Foundation and Resource Center, a Dallas-based nonprofit dedicated to societal equity, sent a letter together this week to the arboretum's senior leadership and various Dallas officials, asking the board of directors to "root out all causes of discrimination, toxicity, and harm" in its work environment.

Why it matters: Two former arboretum employees have filed complaints with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the City of Dallas, alleging workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

Yes, but: The letter says that "at least two other complaints have been filed as well but have not been made public."

Context: The city owns the 66-acre arboretum. The agreement that allows the nonprofit Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Society to operate the garden includes a non-discrimination clause that specifically mentions sexual orientation and gender identity.

  • The arboretum hosts more than 600,000 visitors a year, making it one of the most popular destinations in North Texas.

What they're saying: "While Dallas is a shining example of welcoming and inclusion, that shine today is tarnished by the Dallas Arboretum," the letter to the board says, adding that the discrimination claims provide "a clear picture of a work culture that is the antithesis of what Dallas stands for."

The other side: "The arboretum takes all allegations of discrimination very seriously, including allegations of sexual orientation discrimination," the organization said in a statement to KERA earlier this month. "We are sad that an employee would feel they had been treated unfairly. We will thoroughly investigate the allegations made by the former employee."

What's next: The arboretum's board of directors is scheduled to meet June 27.


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