2nd discrimination lawsuit could cost Jacksonville another $190K

Ex-city employees claiming gender discrimination could be paid $465K total

By Jim Piggott - Reporter

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Two gender discrimination lawsuits are likely to cost the city $465,000 if settlement amounts are approved by the City Council.

One claim was filed by a physician's assistant who worked at the Duval County Jail, and the other was brought by a former Public Works employee.

The city tried unsuccessfully to get both lawsuits dismissed, and in each case, the city's general counsel said the agreed upon settlement would be far less than what the city might have to pay after a jury trial and lengthy court battle.

The city agreed to pay $275,000 to Deborah Jones, 65, who claimed that her boss at the jail called her an “old, demented, worthless whore” and said she didn't need to worry about inmates hanging around a dark parking lot because “they don't rape old, ugly women.” 

The age and gender discrimination lawsuit alleged that she reported the comments to a supervisor, but that she was chastised and suspended and the department stopped scheduling her for shifts.

Lesley Davidson, a former manager in the Public Works department, made a similar allegation about being forced out, saying her supervisor told her the city had ordered him not to give her any work in hopes that she would quit.

Davidson filed a gender discrimination lawsuit in 2016, claiming that she was passed over for a promotion because she is a woman.

Davidson said she was appointed a Better Jacksonville Plan Senior Project Manager in 2008, and two years later, the city downgraded her and other Public Works managers, knocking her down a paygrade and changing her title. She said her title was changed several times, but that it never reflected her skill level accurately.

She said the same thing didn't happen to her male colleagues, and that they were eventually promoted back to higher positions, while she was left at the same level, despite attempts to apply for the higher positions.

The lawsuit claims Davidson was told the city gave a position for which she was qualified to a male employee because he was a “company man.”

The city agreed to settle with Davidson for $190,000. 

The court has approved the settlements, but City Council must sign off on them.

It's expected the council will pass both settlements without debate, because if the city takes either case to court, it could lose millions.

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