Meet OP’s John Sims and his push for an “equal playing field”
After more than 30 years working in employment law, equal opportunity in the workplace is still what drives John Sims.
“I want people to be treated fairly,” Sims said. “If everyone has equal opportunity, and procedures are followed to ensure an even playing field, that builds employee morale and gives everyone the opportunity to advance.”
Sims, the new Systemwide Affirmative Action/Equal Employment Opportunity Compliance Specialist, started last week. He is responsible for UC systemwide compliance with government regulations specific to the data gathering and reporting of employee demographics and oversees UC directives to support equal employment opportunity, affirmative action plans from all campuses and locations, and diversity. He is also UCOP’s new local Title IX, Affirmative Action and Equal Employment Opportunity Officer. Sims will investigate Title IX, discrimination and harassment complaints for employees at OP and help resolve complaints around the UC system in cases where there may be a campus conflict of interest.
Sims is well prepared for this role – he comes to OP from UC’s Agriculture and Natural Resources, where he held a similar position for four years and recently co-chaired the Systemwide Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Officers Group. Before that, he worked in equal employment opportunity and affirmative action at William Paterson University in New Jersey; at Brookdale Community College in New Jersey; and at the Community College of Beaver County in Pennsylvania. He previously served as a trial attorney for the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and in the Judge Advocate General Corps of the U.S. Navy.
Sims knows firsthand how workplace discrimination can impact employees. At 18, Sims was among a group of 10 employees fired from a Pennsylvania steel mill. All 10 were African American, he said.
“It was the 1970s and I didn’t know the specifics of the law then, but I knew it was wrong,” Sims said.
Sims said he and three other employees filed a complaint and with help from the NAACP, were able to get their jobs back. He continued to work at the mill every summer for four more years to pay for college, shoveling coke and coal into blazing hot furnaces and building pipes.
While that experience wasn’t the driving force behind Sims’ career decision, it has helped to affirm his work on equal opportunity in the workplace. As a society, he said, “we still have a lot of work to do.”
Now at UCOP, he wants staff members to know that his office door (Franklin 5312) is open. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or extension 7-0477.
“If employees have a complaint or concern, they can come to me and expect that complaint will be handled impartially, regardless of who they are and who the complaint is against,” Sims said.