State Rep. Emilia Sykes (D-Akron) has asked Gov. John Kasich to intervene in a discrimination complaint she filed with the Ohio Civil Rights Commission.
Sykes, who is black, filed a complaint with the commission in June, alleging gender and racial discrimination by Ohio State Highway Patrol troopers at the Ohio Statehouse. She says she’s been subjected to extra scrutiny, including bag searches and questioning.
Sykes says one trooper commented that she "didn't look like a legislator," and contends other African-American women legislators had similar stories.
"I'm in a group of legislators and I was the only one stopped," Sykes said in June.
The governor’s office responded through the Ohio Department of Public Safety, one of the parties included in the complaint, saying it will “respect the role that the Ohio Civil Rights Commission plays in this and their right to move forward with an investigation.”
According to Sykes, the four agencies included in the complaint – the Department of Public Safety, The Department of Administrative Services, the Capital Square Review and Advisory Board, and the Ohio House of Representatives – rejected Sykes’ request for mediation, which could now trigger a Civil Rights Commission investigation.
An internal investigation by the Ohio Highway Patrol cleared their own officers of bias in the case. The review said Sykes was searched because she had an inactive badge.
Sykes’ letter to Kasich asked him to compel two of the department heads to reconsider mediation.
“It will be the least costly in terms of taxpayer dollars, and it will lead to a faster solution rather than going through a full investigation,” Sykes said.
The Commission would not comment on the status of Sykes’ complaint or whether it is moving forward with an investigation.