Interior Secretary Accused Of Racism|In Awarding Post-Katrina Bonuses

     NEW ORLEANS (CN) – After Hurricane Katrina, Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne gave $10,000 bonuses to 10 white employees to keep them from quitting to work for the private sector. But only two of those employees met the criteria for bonuses, and a black geophysicist who did qualify got nothing, Robert Rocque complains in Federal Court.

     Rocque says that to qualify for the post-Katrina retention bonus, workers had to have “unusually high or unique qualifications” or fulfill a “special need” of the agency that made it “essential to retain the employee and that, in the absence of such an incentive, the employee would be likely to leave federal service.”
     Rocque says he meets all those qualifications. He says only two of the white workers who got the bonuses qualified for them.
     Rocque’s complaint states: “Ten bonuses of $10,000 each were awarded, all to white employees, only two of whom were likely to leave federal service – by retirement, not to take jobs with private industry; none had offers in hand of private employment. That is, eight white employees were given bonuses for which they were not eligible. … Plaintiff asserts that had the bonus standards been non-discriminatorily applied, he would have gotten a bonus of at least $10,000.”
     Rocque is represented by J. Courtney Wilson of Metairie.

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