BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. – The United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has reached a settlement with Brevard County in a racial discrimination case involving a former tourism office employee.
The county has agreed to pay Deidre Jackson $150,000 after she was terminated from the county’s Space Coast Office of Tourism in 2015. Jackson is to receive $100,000 in back pay via untaxed county paychecks and $50,000 in compensatory damages, according to the settlement.
The settlement stems from a complaint Jackson filed with the EEOC in November 2015, alleging she was fired from her position as the tourism office’s communications specialist because she is Black.
EEOC officials found reasonable cause Jackson was unlawfully fired under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Jackson worked at the Space Coast Office of Tourism from March 2007 through May 2015. The lawsuit states Jackson had an impeccable work record with positive performance evaluations. In 2014, Jackson received her final performance review with supervisors rating her work as exceptional, the highest rating in the office. Jackson was never disciplined, according to court records.
In 2014, Eric Garvey was hired to be the director of the tourism office. The lawsuit states the office had about 13 employees, most of whom were white, including Garvey. Attorneys note the only employees that differed ethnically were Jackson and an Asian-American woman Kalina Subido-Person.
Garvey fired Jackson around the end of April in 2015. Garvey said Jackson did not fit his vision of what the office should look like, saying there was no longer a place for her, according to the suit. When asked if anything was wrong with her performance, Garvey said no, the suit states.
Court records state that while Jackson worked under Garvey, he did not document any performance or conduct problems nor did he ever express concerns about her work. Before terminating her employment, Garvey met with Jackson only twice in his office: once to introduce himself, the other for a brief chat regarding job duties.
Lawyers said Garvey never notified Jackson of any reason for her firing in a letter or other formal outlet.
The lawsuit revealed the same day Garvey fired Jackson he met with Subido-Person, a 25-year employee with the office with a record of positive evaluations. Garvey told her if she did not resign she would be fired.
Subido-Person later filed her own civil suit with state court alleging Garvey discriminated against her.
In Garvey’s tenure as director of the tourism office, Jackson and Subido-Person were the only employees who were ever fired. Once they left, the office only had white employees. Garvey eventually hired two white women to replace Jackson in the office, according to the lawsuit.
Court documents note that since the two women were terminated, the county has only hired white individuals to work in the tourism office.
As part of the settlement, offices with Brevard County must now provide live mandatory training on provisions of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, including training on race discrimination and the county’s non-retaliation policies.
The county has 90 days to provide a description of the proposed training and materials to the EEOC and then provide confirmation the training has been completed.
Moving forward, all new supervisors and managers will be required to receive this training.
As for Jackson, the office will be required to provide a neutral recommendation if tapped 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.”
News 6 has reached out to the tourism office for comment and has not heard back yet.