Posted on October 4, 2022

‘I Was Asked To Agree to a “White People Are Racist” Contract at Work’

Nicole Levitt, Newsweek, October 2, 2022


For many years, I was working as a lawyer in private practice, focusing on family law. I also have a degree in psychology and I have worked as a therapist. {snip}

When my current employer had an opening, I jumped at it because I wanted to represent domestic violence victims and not worry about who has the money to pay and who doesn’t. I felt that it was a wonderful opportunity for me and I really like the work.

We are based in Philadelphia, and unfortunately, Philadelphia has a lot of problems with crime, with poverty, and with domestic violence. Most of our clients are our people of color, and when George Floyd was murdered in June of 2020, our workplace organized meetings about it; everyone was upset.

This evolved into having what was later referred to as diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) sessions, where we had affinity groups where staff were separated out into groups based on ethnicity, for example into a white group and a Black group. I was told that I had to attend a white affinity group meeting, but eventually, I was given permission to not attend, because I really didn’t agree with being separated by race.

I also felt that, as a Jew, the last thing I wanted to do was to be separated by race. I didn’t feel anything productive was going to come of that. And I felt it was very regressive. I felt that we didn’t need to listen to one group over another and split ourselves off into groups, we needed to come together more and be more humanistic about it. To me, that was the only way we could address racism.


{snip} I joined the Racial Equity Committee at my job in 2020, but over time, I personally found the language used against white people to be very dehumanizing. I also discovered that there was to be a difference in stipends paid to members of the Racial Equity Audit Taskforce (“REAT”), where Black members of REAT would be paid more than their white counterparts. That seemed not only wrong, but illegal, a violation of US civil rights laws.


At one point, I had requested that an article on anti-Semitism be included in the company’s anti-racism resources, where they included information on Islamophobia and other prejudices experienced by minorities. My request was denied. I was told that the decision had been made a while back not to include this material.

My company has said that they have spoken out against anti-Semitism, but when I replied to an email about the subject and it created a big firestorm where my motivations and timing were questioned, with some people suggesting that I was highlighting Black perpetrators of anti-Semitism in order to sow division. {snip}

Meanwhile, one of the trainings I was given noted that white supremacy is “a smog we all ingest.” Another was about how our organization was complicit in systemic racism and white supremacy. It was a given that if you’re white, you’re racist. And I was even asked to agree to a “Full Value Contract” shared over email that included a point saying we had to “Own that all white people are racist and that I am not the exception.”

The “Full Value Contract” was intended to govern our behavior during Legal Center meetings. My view was that everything else about this “Full Value Contract” was fine. But there was that one line that stated that all white people are racist and that I’m not the exception. That was my sole objection.


I was eventually told I had to attend a meeting with the DEI consultant at the time, which my company suggests was presented as an alternative to going back to the white affinity group. I chose to attend the meeting with the DEI consultant. I would describe the meeting as my thoughts being probed with an attempt to reform them, despite the fact my company describes it as an opportunity to support me. I recall that the meeting was to see whether I am safe to be around my colleagues and clients of color.

I did listen to the training. But I didn’t adhere to an ideology that I thought was racist. {snip}


So, I have submitted an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) complaint against my employer for singling out white people to agree to a “Full Value Contract”, or set of standards in the workplace, saying they’re racist. I believe this is in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act. You’re not allowed to scapegoat any race, including white people, for whatever purpose. A racially hostile atmosphere is one in which there are constantly messages of stereotyping, discriminating, scapegoating, one race, which is what I feel I experienced.