Former employees are alleging that Washington Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler used racial slurs and mistreated staff.
Former and potential employees spoke to The Seattle Times and public radio’s Northwest News Network about Kreidler’s alleged racist behavior.
A Japanese American woman told The Seattle Times that during a job interview Kreidler asked great-grandparents came over to Hawaii to work on sugar or pineapple plantations. Kreidler also told her he didn’t believe people of Japanese descent were a disadvantaged minority because of his experience attending school with Japanese people.
“At one point I looked around, because I wasn’t sure if I was in one of those hidden camera shows,” the woman, said in an interview with The Seattle Times. “Personally, I was just in shock. It was racist and highly offensive.”
The woman now works at a high level position in another state agency. She spoke anonymously for fear of losing her jobs.
Other former employees told the Northwest News Network that the 78-year-old insurance commissioner used racist terms to describe Mexican, Italian, Chinese and transgender people.
“The comments are a striking contrast to Kreidler’s public advocacy for marginalized groups — including requiring insurance companies to cover medically necessary treatment for transgender patients,” Northwest News Network reporter Austin Jenkins said during a radio segment.
Kreidler claims he has taken diversity training but his office has no record of the training occurring, The Seattle Times reports.
On Monday, Kreidler issued an apology “for any pain” his words caused, My Northwest reports.
“I’ve been in public office for more than four decades. During that time, society’s norms have steadily changed —and that’s a good thing. We should evolve and get better,” he wrote in a statement. “Unfortunately, sometimes my language has not kept up with those changes.”
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