The Southern Poverty Law Center, an activist group tracking hate groups in the U.S., announced Thursday that it has fired its co-founder and former chief litigator.
Morris Dees was ousted from the organization on Wednesday, the organization’s president said in a statement. The organization did not give cause for Dees’s “termination,” but alluded to necessary steps being taken “[w]hen one of our own fails to meet … standards” of inclusivity that the organization espouses.
“Effective yesterday, Morris Dees’ employment at the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) was terminated,” SPLC president Richard Cohen said. “As a civil rights organization, the SPLC is committed to ensuring that the conduct of our staff reflects the mission of the organization and the values we hope to instill in the world.”
“The SPLC is deeply committed to having a workplace that reflects the values it espouses — truth, justice, equity and inclusion, and we believe the steps we have taken today reaffirm that commitment,” he continued.
The Montgomery Advertiser reported that Dees faced accusations throughout the years of discrimination against black employees, as well as scrutiny over his focus on fundraising rather than legal battles related to causes the SPLC supports.
The SPLC had removed Dees’s biography from its website on Thursday despite his history as the organization’s co-founder, though his name is still mentioned on its general history page.
The SPLC became the target of a lawsuit earlier this year from Gavin McGinnes, founder of the “Proud Boys” group, for the SPLC’s designation of the group as a “hate group.”
“Mr. McInnes is essentially an untouchable, unable to retain or be considered for gainful employment in his line of work,” the lawsuit alleges.