Jefferson County employee files gender discrimination lawsuit

Michelle Massey, East Texas Bureau Jun. 15, 2010, 9:56am

A female working for Jefferson County has filed suit against the county for unlawful employment practices.

Jane Hollier filed suit against Jefferson County, Sheriff Mitch Woods and Chief Deputy Zena Stephens on June 2 in Beaumont Division of the Eastern District of Texas.

Hollier claims she was discriminated against because of her sex, age and disability in violation of Title VII.

According to the complaint, Hollier was hired by the county in 1989 as a clerk in the criminal records/identification division. The next year, she underwent training to become an identification officer.

In 1994, the union contract provided that all currently employed identification officers were 'grandfathered in' and not required to be certified. Hollier was never certified as a peace officer.

In 2007, a new union contract was negotiated providing peace officers and correction officers money for certification, based on their employment time. Under the terms of this union contract, Hollier was paid at Law Enforcement 8.

Hollier asked her supervisor to investigate why she was not paid at this level. When the investigation was complete, Hollier was told that instead of a pay raise, her pay was cut more than $4 per hour. In response, Hollier filed an internal grievance and claims she was later fired for filing this grievance and complaining about illegal activity, pay discrimination and retaliatory pay cuts.

In 2008, Hollier was investigated by Internal Affairs for taking a muscle relaxer while she was on duty. The Disciplinary Review Board recommended that she be suspended for 10 days and required to undergo physical and psychological evaluations before returning to work.

However, her supervisor rejected the recommendation and terminated Hollier's employment. Hollier states that male Peace Officers have been treated more favorable, not being disciplined or terminated for graver misconduct.

"The County used the following discriminatory employment practices in violation of Title VII: use of false evidence to file charges, disparate rejection of a lesser recommended discipline and termination of employment. The reason given for the discipline and termination was pretextual," the complaint states.

The plaintiff is asking for economic and noneconomic damages, attorney's fees and costs.

Larry Watts of Watts & Associates in Missouri City is representing Hollier.

U.S. District Judge Ron Clark is assigned to the case.

Case No. 1:10c00314

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