Dayton civil rights worker discharged after alleged racist remarks

The city of Dayton has discharged a recently hired senior civil rights investigator who was accused of making “hateful” and “racist” remarks to a bartender who took her beer away.

Julia Acosta-Grommon was appointed to the Human Relations Council in April after being highly recommended by the city manager, according to records in her personnel file.

Acosta-Grommon previously worked as the director of Wright State University’s office of Latinx, Asian and Native American Affairs.

But a bartender at Elsa’s Corner Cantina in Sugarcreek Twp. claims Acosta-Grommon in August said hateful things to him after he told her to quiet down and took her drink away, according to a memo in her personnel file ordering her discharge.

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Dayton’s human resources department investigated the incident because Acosta-Grommon allegedly represented herself as a city employee and left her business card with a patron at the bar, the memo states.

Attempts to reach Acosta-Grommon for comment were unsuccessful.

On Sept. 3, the city of Dayton received a call from Ryan Collins, a bartender at Elsa’s Corner Cantina restaurant in Sugarcreek Twp. who said he served Acosta-Grommon several days earlier, according to the memo in her file ordering her discharge.

The memo was signed by Dayton City Manager Shelley Dickstein, Human Resources Director Kenneth Couch and Human Relations Council Deputy Director Joann Wright Mawasha.

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Collins, who is black, said he asked Acosta-Grommon to quiet down at least five times before taking her beer away, the memo states.

After that, Collins said Acosta-Grommon, who was at the bar with a friend, made hurtful and racist comments. The memo does not specify what she is accused of saying, and a city spokesperson said the city does not comment on personnel matters.

Collins says he ordered her to leave and tried to call her an Uber, but she had to be escorted out of the restaurant by management, who threatened to call the police, the memo states.

Collins contacted the city because he said he was deeply concerned someone who represented the city would act like that.

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Collins said he is used to dealing with belligerent behavior from patrons but said Acosta-Grommon was out of control.

He also said Acosta-Grommon indicated she worked for the city of Dayton and gave her card to a customer at the business, who provided it to Collins.

In interviews with Dayton staff, Acosta-Grommon denied the allegations but said she was asked to leave the bar because she and her friend were being loud while using “adult language,” the memo states.

City staff said statements and video supplied by Elsa’s management team supported the bartender’s allegations, the memo states.

Acosta-Grommon, who was hired at a salary of about $60,000 per year, was still a probationary employee when she was discharged. Her probationary period was to last for six months.

Acosta-Grommon, who took a pay cut to join the city, previously volunteered at Dayton’s mediation center and previously worked at multiple centers for women, LGBTQA affairs and the Bolinga Black Cultural Resources Center.

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