Ward 7 Council member Vincent Gray (WI file photo)
**FILE** Ward 7 Council member Vincent Gray (WI photo)

D.C. Council member Vincent C. Gray on Friday followed through on his promise to address what he described as the council’s violation of his human rights.  

The Ward 7 Democrat filed a “ charge of discrimination” with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the D.C. Office of Human Rights. 

The charge alleges that the D.C. Council discriminated against Gray on the basis of his medical status and age when they relieved him of his chairmanship of the the council’sCommittee on Health. 

The attorneys representing Gray cited Title VII of the Civil Rights and the DC Human Rights Act in their case, saying that Council Chairman Phil Mendelson (D) alluded to Gray’s stroke recovery as the impetus behind his committee reassignment.  

“Seldom have I seen a clearer act of discrimination. 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,” said Tim Maloney, who leads a team of lawyers from Joseph Greenwald & Laake PA representing Gray. 

“Instead of asking Gray if the Council could support his return to work, Mendelson chose to lead a scheme that demoted Gray and limited his legislative authority,” Maloney continued. “Not only did Mendelson violate Council rules that recognize seniority, he violated Gray’s rights and in doing so discriminated against him.” 

Earlier this year, the council approved committee reassignments that replaced Gray with Council member Christina Henderson (I-At large) as the head of the council’s Committee on Health. Mendelson assigned Gray to the newly formed Committee on Hospital and Health Equity. 

Gray suffered a mild stroke during the latter part of 2021. Despite progress in his recovery, the Ward 7 council member has challenges verbally communicating. That’s why he expressed plans to communicate through written statements and have a council staffer read his statements while he’s conducting council business.  

Beyond that, Gray said that medical professionals have cleared him to work. 

Soon after losing his chairmanship of the Committee on Health, Gray said he would fight to ensure that stroke survivors receive reasonable accommodations and workplace protections under the Human Rights Act. 

The District enacted the Human Rights Act in 1977. An amendment to the legislation in 2007 intended to end discrimination in the District for any reason. In a written statement, Gray pointed out that Mendelson, then a council member, supported the amendment. 

For Gray, the reassignment that cost him the chairmanship represents a larger problem. 

“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,” Gray said. “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.”

In speaking with The Informer earlier this year, Mendelson said conversations with experts challenged Gray’s perspective about his ability to work. His position on the matter has not changed. 

“I have seen the press release but not the complaint.  I believe there is no basis to the allegations,” Mendelson said.  “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.”

Sam P.K. Collins photo

Sam P.K. Collins

Sam P.K. Collins has more than a decade of experience as a journalist, columnist and organizer. Sam, a millennial and former editor of WI Bridge, covers education, police brutality, politics, and other...

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  1. As a Ward 7 voter and D.C. taxpayer who helps to pay all council members’ salaries and benefits, I’m ashamed of the hair-coloring denier of truth and time known as Vince Gray. Ward 7 residents deserve representation on the council by someone who is vigorously present and, at a bare minimum, capable of the deft verbal communication that’s inherently required of those we elect to argue and debate the crafting our laws.
    But like many folks who pathetically persist in the pursuit of power or celebrity long after their best days are gone (see Joe Biden, Dianne Feinstein, John Fetterman, Tiger Woods, et al.), Vince Gray now seems incapable of gracefully accepting Father Time’s gentle tap on the shoulder.
    Mind you, one certainly needn’t take the side of all the younger, criminal-lovin’, never-run-nothin’-but-they-mouths radicals on the council who want to push Vince Gray and his relatively business-friendly, law-and-order approach to government out the door. But one can nevertheless politely plead with this elderly, stroke-riddled shadow of his former self to step down and magnanimously pass the torch to a new generation of leadership.
    (And while he’s at it, he might want to stop coloring his hair, too. There’s never been an 80-year-old man with truly black hair in all of human history. Vince Gray shouldn’t let himself become another dripping Rudy Giuliani joke. Let Gray go gray.)

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