STRIVE’s Response to the Verdict in Johnson v. STRIVE

Based in East Harlem, New York, STRIVE is a nationally-recognized workforce development nonprofit agency that has transformed the lives of over 50,000 graduates since 1984 through comprehensive training and employment services. STRIVE serves a population whose lives are often complicated by poverty, insufficient skills, a history of drug addition, criminal convictions, long-term dependence on public assistance, and homelessness.

In keeping with our mission, STRIVE is firmly committed to a positive work environment for all staff and participants, with clearly articulated policies that guide appropriate workplace behavior and language. The use of any language which is disparaging or demeaning to any person regardless of race, culture, religion, gender, or sexual orientation is strictly prohibited by STRIVE’s policies.

STRIVE is an equal opportunity employer with a long-standing commitment to diversity in all respects. Of full-time staff, over half are women, two-thirds are African American or Hispanic, and nearly one in six were formerly incarcerated. A third of employees are STRIVE graduates, a testament to the positive transformation our clients experience in the program.  We are proud that the diverse composition of our staff reflects the constituency we aim to serve.

STRIVE conducted an extensive investigation following Ms. Brandi Johnson’s legal complaint and concluded that, while language between Mr. Rob Carmona and Ms. Johnson was inappropriate and against STRIVE policy, there was no evidence of harassment or discrimination based on gender and race, as claimed by the plaintiff.  Further, Ms. Johnson’s position as Affiliate Services Coordinator was solely funded through a federal grant; upon completion of the grant, Ms. Johnson’s position ended due to lack of funding.

While we respect the jury’s decision and the judicial process, we are disappointed by the verdict, as we do not believe that it comports with the full facts of the case. We are exploring all of our options moving forward, including appeal, and look forward to the judicial process taking its entire course.

STRIVE will continue to serve men and women who are disconnected from the workforce and will remain committed to our core mission of creating opportunities for those with severe barriers to employment.