*Dear Mr. Sharpton,
As the head of National Action Network (“NAN”), and as an advocate for women and people’s rights, I would like to first say that I am appalled at your recent position concerning Tony Wafford, and allowing him to “take a leave of absence,” rather than making him to step down from his position and resign from NAN.
Tony Wafford, your West Coast Chair of the NAN violated my civil rights in the workplace, by not only sexually harassing me, but added insult to injury by verbally and physically attacking me in the workplace. After seeing hand surgeons and a hand therapist, the report indicated the blow caused inoperable nerve damage to my appendage where I am left with an affliction of pain that I must bear for the rest of my life. I had witnesses to the mistreatment I experienced, and filed a Sexual Harassment and Battery lawsuit against Tony Wafford. My physicians have provided court declarations as to the severity of the injuries to my hand as well.
Mr. Sharpton, I did what the law and justice system tells every law-abiding citizen to do when wronged. My case was heard and fought in Los Angeles Superior Court before a 12-member jury. On November 1, 2010 at the conclusion of a nine-day (9) trial, a jury returned with a verdict in my favor, calling it “Intentional Tort” Battery, while continuously being sexually harassed by Tony Wafford, while working at the Palms Residential Care Facility office.
As the head of National Action Network, I find it ironic that you have publicly gone to bat for many, many others cases of injustice, i.e., Don Imus, the Duke Lacrosse team, Tawana Brawley and many others, too numerous to count on the behalf of African American women. However, someone who now has a close affiliation with you, is now being given preferential treatment.
The National Black Women’s Network, The South Central L.A. Progressive Movement and Sistahs of the Black Liberation Movement threatened to Boycott NAN unless your organization makes Tony Wafford step down and resign.
You have made several public statements, which are inaccurate. Media strategies and sly attacks will not blind-side this case, whether you were aware of it or not.
To clarify a few matters, on July 14th you issued a public statement to EURweb.com stating that the status of my employment with the NAN was “that I was not an employee of NAN.” This was incorrect. I worked full-time and directly with Wafford and reported to him directly, while at the Palms, from 2004 through 2007. In 2006, when you crowned Wafford as the President of the NAN LA Chapter I was then hired by Wafford and worked directly for him, for both Palms and NAN. LA Chapter President of NAN, Rev. K. W. Tulloss knew of this, and Tony Wafford solidified my position in writing.
It was also mentioned recently by you, issued via email to reporters stating that “I filed a worker’s comp claim and was denied while working at the Palms.” This also is incorrect.
Mr. Sharpton, I ask you once again, will you do what is right and what you have enforced for others in the past for their injustice, or will you continue to turn a blind eye, and think this will go away? I leave you with your very own slogan and words, “No Justice, No Peace.”
In Closing, on Monday, July 18th, at the continuation of the non-economic damages trial, Tony Wafford had to be reminded by the Judge that a jury verdict had in fact found him guilty.
Mr. Sharpton as the head of NAN organization and someone who is associated with and employs Tony Wafford, I and every African American woman expect you to stand up for what is right, by firing him, and put your personal friendship aside. If not you will continue to send a message that it is Ok for people that (you know) to sexually harass, mistreat, or abuse someone in the workplace.
Sharon Song Byrd
Editor’s Note: Rachel Noerdlinger, Rev. Al Sharpton’s spokesperson, told EUR via email that they “will respond” to Sharon Song Byrd’s open letter.