The Southern Poverty Law Center has dismissed founder Morris Dees, the civil-rights organization announced on Thursday. “Effective yesterday, Morris Dees’ employment at the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) was terminated,” said Richard Cohen, president of the SPLC. Dees, the SPLC co-founder and chief trial counsel, founded the Montgomery, Alabama-based center in 1971. “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,” Cohen said. “When one of our own fails to meet those standards, no matter his or her role in the organization, we take it seriously and must take appropriate action.” The statement did not elaborate on why Dees was let go.
“Today we announced a number of immediate, concrete next steps we’re taking, including bringing in an outside organization to conduct a comprehensive assessment of our internal climate and workplace practices, to ensure that our talented staff is working in the environment that they deserve—one in which all voices are heard and all staff members are respected,” Cohen's statement read. “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.”