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August 3, 2023

Girls Inc. of Worcester reaches resolution in racial discrimination case

PHOTO | Courtesy of Google Maps Girls Inc. of Worcester at 125 Providence Street

Girls Inc. of Worcester has reached a resolution in a racial discrimination lawsuit filed by a former employee in January 2022. 

According to a joint statement released Thursday by Girls Inc. and Gemelee DePasquale, who is the plaintiff, both parties have reached a resolution in the lawsuit. As part of the agreement, an annual training for board members, administrators, and staff at Girls Inc. will be required to address implicit and explicit bias and diversity, equity, and inclusion.

DePasquale filed the civil lawsuit alleging discrimination based on her identity as a Black woman from Girls Inc. leadership, specifically former CEO Victoria Waterman. She received a right to sue from the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination in October 2021, according to court documents. 

Waterman was placed on leave in May along with then Chief Operating Officer Allison James. A subsequent petition made rounds online alleging discrimination against staff and program participants. Girls Inc. named an interim CEO in an effort to restore its programming before the summer season.

“The resolution marks not just the end of a legal chapter but the beginning of a renewed commitment to social responsibility. Ms. DePasquale and GIW are both enthusiastic about the journey ahead and optimistic that this resolution and GIW’s commitment to ongoing education will have a positive impact within the organization and the broader community,” read the Thursday joint statement.

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