U.S. Department of Justice Reaches Settlement in Race Discrimination Case of Former Brevard TDO Employee

By  //  July 29, 2020

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Deidre Jackson will receive $100,000 in back pay, $50,000 in compensatory damages

U.S. JUSTICE DEPARTMENT: Former TDC Executive Director Eric Garvey, above, fired Deidre Jackson in April 2015, told Jackson that she did not fit his vision of the office. (SCD image)

U.S. Department of Justice Secures $150,000 in Lost Wages and Damages for Former Tourist Development Employee Deidre Jackson


U.S. JUSTICE DEPARTMENT: Former Space Coast Office of Tourism Executive Director Eric Garvey fired Deidre Jackson in April 2015, told Jackson that she did not fit his vision of the office.

The U.S. Department of Justice announced Tuesday that it has reached a settlement with Brevard County, Florida, resolving its race discrimination lawsuit against the county.

According to the Justice Department, Brevard County agreed to pay Deidre Jackson $150,000 after she was terminated in 2015 as an employee of the Space Coast Office of Tourism.

Jackson will receive $100,000 in back pay and $50,000 in compensatory damages.

The suit alleged that the county violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 when it fired 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,” said Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division, Eric S. Dreiband.

“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.

“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,” said 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 Eric Garvey 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.

Garvey then fired Jackson in April 2015, six months after he was hired. Garvey 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, Asian-American woman Kalina Subido-Person, was forced to resign.

Subido-Person was a 25-year employee with the tourism office and also had a record of positive evaluations. Garvey told her if she did not resign, she too would be fired.

Subido-Person later filed her own civil suit with state court alleging Garvey discriminated against her. The departure of the two minority employees resulted in an all-white tourism office.

Garvey, who served three and a half years as executive director of the Space Coast Office of Tourism, resigned his position abruptly in July 2018 to take a job as Chief Operating Officer with Bob Baugher’s Hotel Group, which owns the Four Points Sheraton in Cocoa Beach, Cocoa Beach Suites hotel and the Radisson Resort in Cape Canaveral.

Baugher has served on the Space Coast Tourism Development Council for the past 12 years and is currently an appointee on the seven-member advisory board.

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.

“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,” said a Justice Department official.

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