A black employee in the tourism office of Brevard County in Florida has been awarded a $150,000 settlement in a discrimination lawsuit after she was fired because she “did not fit the vision.”
According to Justice Department officials, the black woman, Deidre Jackson was fired from the county tourism office without reason and replaced with a white person, an act which violates the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Jackson filed a claim for discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which referred the case to the Justice Department and the federal government sued Brevard County.
When Jackson was reportedly fired without cause in 2015, at the same time, another minority employee was forced to resign, the U.S. Department of Justice said in a news release. “No one should suffer the indignity of losing her job because of the color of her skin,” Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division Eric S. Dreiband said.
Jackson worked for the Florida Space Coast Office from 2007 until she was fired in 2015. “During her eight-year tenure as a county employee in the tourism office, Jackson had an exemplary work record,” the federal complaint states.
However, in the previous year before Jackson was fired, officials said a new manager, a white man named Eric Garvey, was hired. According to court filings, Garvey did not communicate any issues with Jackson’s work and “noticeably avoided interacting with her during the work day.”
He reportedly met with her two times in six months. The first, to introduce himself and the second time to discuss specific job duties. According to the complaint, Garvey fired Jackson six months after his arrival in April 2015 without advance notice.
“Garvey told Jackson that she did not fit what his vision of what he wanted the office to look like and there was no place for her in the office,” the complaint states. “Garvey also told Jackson that he wanted her gone in 14 days. When Jackson asked Garvey if there was anything wrong with her job performance, Garvey answered ‘no.’”
Jackson was not the only person discriminated against. Another employee, Kalina Subido-Person, an Asian-American woman who had worked at the office for 25 years without any issues was told she would be fired if she didn’t resign, officials said.
Both women who differed ethnically were replaced with white employees, resulting in “an all-white tourism office.” Garvey reportedly left the office in 2018.
Although Brevard County has not admitted fault but per the terms of the settlement agreement, it will pay Jackson $100,000 in back pay and $50,000 in compensatory damages, according to the court filings.
The county also agreed to give supervisors and managers mandatory anti-discrimination training in accordance with Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.
The county has 90 days to provide a description of the proposed training and materials to the EEOC.
Also, the office will be required to provide a neutral recommendation for Jackson as a reference and refrain from referencing her termination and instead use the phrasing that she left her employment “in good standing and is eligible for rehire.”