N.C. Military Veteran Discrimination

The Asheville Buncombe Community Christian Ministry in North Carolina failed to provide female military veterans with the same job training classes male veterans received through the organization’s federally funded programs.

Female veterans were excluded from job training and educational programs provided to male veterans such as truck driving, training for “green” jobs and culinary arts. Instead, female veterans were offered classes such as knitting, art therapy, yoga, meditation, how to de-clutter your room, self-esteem and Bible study.

The SPLC filed a sex discrimination complaint with the U.S. Department of Labor against the organization. The complaint, filed on behalf of U.S. Army veteran Emily Bagby and other female veterans, describes how the organization’s failure to provide the same services to female veterans is discrimination on the basis of gender – a violation of the nondiscrimination and equal opportunity provisions of the Workforce Investment Act administered by the Department of Labor.

The SPLC’s complaint asked the department to end this discrimination by compelling the organization to overhaul its policies. The complaint also urged the department to monitor the organization’s programs to ensure it no longer discriminates against female veterans.

The ministry is composed of approximately 300 churches in Asheville and Buncombe County, N.C. It provided services to veterans, the homeless and families in poverty. It received funding from the Department of Labor’s Veterans Workforce Investment Program and the Homeless Veterans Reintegration Program for its job training programs and services for veterans. It received $200,000 from the Department of Labor to help re-integrate homeless veterans into the civilian workforce through job training and other services in 2012.

The organization also received federal aid through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Grant and Per Diem Program. This money provides supportive housing and services to homeless veterans. With four such programs, which encompass 158 beds for homeless men and women, it made Asheville Buncombe Community Christian Ministry the third largest contractor of Grant and Per Diem Program services in the country.