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LOCKPORT — The Democratic commissioner on the Niagara County Board of Elections is being accused, in a complaint filed with the New York State Division of Human Rights, of employment discrimination.
At the same time, the elections board employee who has filed the complaint has released a covert audio recording that appears to capture Commissioner Lora Allen, who is Black, making disparaging comments about minority workers at the board.
A copy of the audio file was made available to the Gazette Friday morning by the complaining employee’s attorney, Adam Grogan. He is an associate, specializing in employment law, with the firm Tulley Rinckey PLLC.
“I had an initial conversation with my client, and she described bullying and harassment from Commissioner Allen,” Grogan said. “Then she said she had a recording of Commissioner Allen saying she would never hire another Black (worker).”
Grogan said the audio file has been given to investigators with the Division of Human Rights.
“I was shocked. Not only is it rare to have a recording, but for it to be the Democratic commissioner at the board of elections, that’s crazy,” he said.
Grogan declined to identify his client by name.
Anthony Kuhn, managing partner with Tully Rinckey’s Buffalo office, and a Niagara County resident, described Allen’s comments in the audio file as “racist.”
“As a Niagara County resident, I am shocked to hear a high-ranking county official with such important responsibilities say such disgusting racially biased things”, Kuhn said. “Harassment and racial discrimination in the workplace is frequently alleged but very rarely do victims have recordings like the one in this case that makes the racial animus so clear.”