Another discrimination trial against Jefferson County starts up

By David Yates | Jun 5, 2013

For the second time in four months, 12 area residents well determine whether a Jefferson County official is guilty of discrimination. 

On March 4, a different jury hammered the county with a million dollar verdict, finding that the county discriminated against former county employee Donna Davis.

Four month later, jury selection began in the case of Ha Penny Nguyen vs. Jefferson County.

Nguyen filed suit against the county and Justice of the Peace Tom Gillam III, Jefferson County Precinct 8, on June 7, 2006, alleging she was the victim of discrimination and retaliation.

The suit alleges Gillam only trusted African American employees and sought to terminate Nguyen, a Vietnamese woman.

She alleges she was the victim of retaliation for claiming grievances against Gillam and reporting conduct violations against the former JP.

“As a result of the constant harassment, Nguyen’s job at the Justice Court became so intolerable, she began to become highly anxious, fearful, experiencing insomnia and uncontrollable outbursts of weeping,” the suit states.

“Unable to stand the stress and anxiety, and in order to save her career … Nguyen was forced to quit her position … and take a position for less pay in a different sector of the county infrastructure on October 19, 2004.”

Nguyen will attempt to convince jurors to award her damages for the alleged violation of her constitutional rights.

Missouri City attorney Larry Watts represents her.

The county is represented by Assistant District Attorney Thomas Rugg.

Judge Gary Sanderson, 60th District Court, is presiding over the case.

Case No. B177-132

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