For immediate release: December 11, 2020

Metro releases independent investigation into ROCC claims by oversight body

An independent investigation into some of the most serious charges of “toxic culture” at Metro’s Rail Operations Control Center has concluded that complaints of racial discrimination, sexual harassment, and retaliation by senior rail officials are unsubstantiated.

Metro made the report public today following a three-month investigation by the law firm Littler Mendelson, P.C. into assertions contained in a Washington Metro Safety Commission (WMSC) Final Audit issued in September 2020. 

“This report exonerates Lisa Woodruff and Deltrin Harris of the charges contained in the WMSC report and repeated in dozens of media accounts,” said General Manager Paul J. Wiedefeld. “While this bell cannot be unrung, the record must be set straight to restore the good names of transit professionals whose reputations were unfairly tarnished.”

Following the WMSC Audit, WMATA Board Chair Paul C. Smedberg joined Wiedefeld in a letter committing to the launch of an overhaul of the rail control center, which is ongoing and includes improvements to training, procedures and processes, staffing, supervision, and other areas.

“Metro’s Board of Directors welcomes the conclusions of the independent counsel and regrets that Ms. Woodruff and Mr. Harris were unjustly portrayed in WMSC’s report and subsequent news accounts,” said Smedberg. “We also note that the WMATA Inspector General reported to us his conclusion that there was no credible evidence that a ROCC supervisor was intoxicated while on duty, as reported by the WMSC.” 

Metro acknowledged that the Littler report confirms the importance of culture change at the ROCC to improve professionalism among controllers, and frontline and mid-level management; as well as training to help controllers cope with safety-sensitive duties and a stressful work environment. 

“Our work to transform the ROCC will continue under the new leadership that we have in place and we are on track to make short- and long-term improvements that go above and beyond required corrective actions,” Wiedefeld said. “We are committed to making our rail control center safety the standard bearer and envy of the transit industry.” 

Report on WMATA Investigation of ROCC Working Conditions