Southern Poverty Law Center Fires Co-Founder Morris Dees, Says He ‘Fails to Meet Standards’

The civil rights nonprofit says it is bringing in “an outside organization to conduct a comprehensive assessment of our internal climate”

Last Updated: March 14, 2019 @ 2:13 PM

The Southern Poverty Law Center has fired its millionaire co-founder Morris Dees, the nonprofit announced in a statement on Thursday.

“Effective yesterday, Morris Dees’ employment at the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) was terminated. 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. 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,” SPLC president Richard Cohen said in a statement.

And while the Montgomery, Alabama-based civil rights organization declined to provide specifics as to why Dees was forced out, the statement also said the organization would be bringing in an “outside organization” to evaluate “internal climate and workplace practices.”

“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,” the organization said.

Dees, 82, has been associated with the civil rights nonprofit since he co-founded it in 1971. The group became famous for its prominent battles during the civil rights era against the Ku Klux Klan and White Supremacist organizations.

The group, whose list of hate groups and extremists figures is widely cited by the media, had almost $450 million in net assets at the end of 2017, according to the most recent tax filings.