The Daily Pennsylvanian is a student-run nonprofit.

Please support us by disabling your ad blocker on our site.

Penn graduate and lecturer Lauren Footman was fired from her position as Delaware County's inaugural DEI officer after she filed a complaint of racial discrimination (Photo from Delaware County Pennsylvania).

Penn lecturer and graduate Lauren Footman, Delaware County’s first diversity, equity, and inclusion officer, was fired after filing a racial discrimination complaint against her employer. 

Footman received a Master of Science in organizational dynamics at Penn’s College of Liberal and Professional Studies in 2020, and is a lecturer in the LPS Organizational Dynamics program. She alleged in a November 2023 United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission complaint that then-Interim Chief Administrative Officer of Delaware County Marc Woolley discriminated against her and other Black women employees.

The Philadelphia Inquirer reported that Footman alleged she faced retaliation from Woolley — who is also Black — for a similar internal complaint she filed, and found out she was fired after returning from medical leave for depression and anxiety in January.  

In her complaints, Footman alleged that Woolley favored white workers over Black workers, especially Black women. She also alleged that Woolley made disparaging comments to Footman about transgender people and gender-neutral bathrooms. 

An internal investigation on the matter said that Woolley “does not discriminate against African-American women during the performance of his job duties,” but also noted that his racial identity does not “shield him from a claim of discrimination.” 

Delaware County spokesperson Adrienne Marofsky told the Inquirer that Footman’s firing was unrelated to the complaints she filed. 

Footman maintains that she was fired for the complaints she lodged against Woolley. 

“With the national assault on diversity, equity and inclusion as the backdrop, I was harassed, bullied and intimidated for fighting for equity in Delaware County,” Footman wrote on LinkedIn on Monday. 

Woolley, who returned to his previous role as deputy executive director on Jan. 2 after a new Delaware County executive director was chosen, has been the subject of controversies in other city government jobs he has held across the country. 

While working at the Philadelphia Housing Authority in the early 2000s, Woolley was named in several lawsuits from former employees alleging misconduct. In 2017, his position as head of Salt Lake City’s Redevelopment Agency was revoked days after it was announced due to his previous controversies at PHA. 

In November 2021, Woolley was named interim city director of Charlottesville, Va., but rejected the position due to “craziness” on the city government level and the aftermath of a 2017 white supremacist rally.