Justice Department today announced that it has reached a settlement with Brevard County, Florida, resolving its race discrimination lawsuit against the county.
The suit alleged that the county violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 when it fired Deidre Jackson, an African-American communications specialist in its Space Coast Tourism Office. Title VII is a federal statute that prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, and religion.
“No one should suffer the indignity of losing her job because of the color of her skin. To that end, the Department of Justice will vigorously enforce Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 so that state and local governments do not close the doors of equal employment opportunity to anyone because of race,” said Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division, Eric S. Dreiband. “The Justice Department was established 150 years ago with a founding charge to protect civil rights and this settlement reinforces our continuing commitment to eradicate the scourge of racial discrimination in the government.”
“Racial discrimination, in the workplace or elsewhere, is unacceptable and undermines the very tenets and ideals of a civilized, modern society,” stated the U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Florida Maria Chapa Lopez. “Our nation’s greatest achievements have been because of our diversity, not in spite of it.”
According to the department’s complaint filed in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida, Jackson had an excellent work history including positive evaluations and no disciplinary actions throughout her eight years of employment with the county. According to the allegations contained in the complaint, however, shortly after a new director was appointed as manager of the office in 2014, Jackson’s work came under unjustified scrutiny not applied to other co-workers performing similar duties. That director fired Jackson in April 2015, six months after he was hired.
The director never expressed any concern about Jackson’s work performance prior to terminating her employment. As the complaint alleges, he told Jackson that she did not fit his vision of the office without further explanation. After her firing, the director replaced Jackson with two white employees. Around that same time, the complaint alleges, the only other minority employee in the tourism office was forced to resign. The departure of the two minority employees resulted in an all-white tourism office.
Under the terms of the settlement agreement, the county will pay Jackson $150,000 for lost wages and compensatory damages. The settlement agreement also requires the county to provide its supervisors and managers with training on its anti-discrimination policies and on the types of conduct in the workplace that constitute unlawful employment practice under Title VII.
The Tampa Field Office, which is part of the Miami District Office of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), investigated and attempted to resolve Jackson’s charge of discrimination before referring it to the Department of Justice as an enforcement action. More information about the EEOC’s jurisdiction is available on its website at www.eeoc.gov.
The full and fair enforcement of Title VII is a top priority of the Justice Department’s Employment Litigation Section of the Civil Rights Division. Additional information about the Civil Rights Division and the jurisdiction of the Employment Litigation Section is available on its websites at www.justice.gov/crt/ and https://www.justice.gov/crt/employment-litigation-section.