City could settle for $275K with ex-jail employee in discrimination lawsuit

Woman claims she was harassed for gender, age, called 'worthless whore'


JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The city of Jacksonville is preparing to pay $275,000 in a settlement to a physician's assistant who worked at the Duval County Jail and said she was fired because she spoke up about being harassed and discriminated against because of her age and gender.

Sheriff Mike Williams and the city's general counsel are asking the City Council to approve the settlement, which they said is better than a $500,000 payout the city might have to make if it loses a jury trial in the case.

Deborah Jones, 65, who was hired in June 2013 to work in the mental health division of the Duval County Jail, accused her boss, Dr. Tan Cao, of harassing, belittling and intimidating her based on her gender and age, according to a complaint filed in October 2015.

The complaint alleges that in October 2013, Cao called Jones an “old, demented, worthless whore” because she was a divorced, older woman.

Jones also alleged that in February 2014, when a staff member warned her of inmates hanging around a dark parking lot, Cao retorted, “No need to worry; they don't rape old, ugly women.”

Jones said she reported the comments to a supervisor, but that she was chastised instead and told to work better with Cao. The complaint alleges that the supervisor said Cao's rape statement was “a joke” and was not directed at Jones. 

Jones said the supervisor called her "too sensitive" and "defensive" and suspended her for a week, and that the department effectively terminated her employment by not scheduling her for any more shifts.

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