Monday, March 3, 2014

Texas Town in the Spotlight Again for Racial Division

Photo Courtesy: The New York Times
For many people who live outside the area, the only association that they have with the town of Jasper, Texas is the brutal dragging death of a black man, James Byrd, Jr., by three white men in 1998. Unfortunately, publicity returned to this small east Texas town over the past couple of years and once again for reasons of racial division and distrust. 

In 2011, Rodney Pearson was chosen to be the first black police chief in Jasper’s history. Almost immediately, some protested that his appointment was racially motivated and that Pearson was put in the position over more qualified white candidates by a City Council on which four of the five members were black. When a new slate of City Council officials were elected the following year, the racial composition of the legislative body had been flipped on its head. And, one of the first acts of this new council was to fire Mr. Pearson for what they claim was his inadequate work as leader of the police force.

Pearson’s firing caught the interest of the Texas NAACP as well as the federal Department of Justice. The contentions now existed that Pearson had both been hired and fired due to his skin color. This week, Rodney Pearson was successful in arguing that his termination based on race and he was awarded more than $800,000 as a settlement in a federal civil rights lawsuit.

The sad reality is that discrimination still does occur in workplaces across the country. However, there are strong legal protections at the local, state and federal level that mean recourse is available if you think you’ve been fired, passed over for a promotion or just treated differently at work due to your race, religion, gender and other defining characteristics. If you have been the victim of workplace discrimination, please let the attorneys at Bertolino LLP help you achieve the justice you deserve.

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