Woman claims discrimination after not receiving promotion, takes Henrico to court

HENRICO COUNTY, Va. -- In black and white, federal court documents outline a complaint alleging a title seven violation of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

In it, the plaintiff Jeanetta Lee describes why she believes her employer, Henrico County discriminated against her when it gave a Risk Manager position she applied for to what she believes to be a lesser qualified and less experienced caucasian man.

Her attorney Christopher Brown spoke with CBS 6 News. “The individual selected did not meet those minimum requirements for the job. It states what those minimum requirements are and during his deposition he stated that a lot of it, he did not have” Brown explained.

An attorney representing Henrico County in this federal lawsuit declined to comment on the lawsuit. CBS 6 News obtained court documents that spell out the county’s position.

According to documents, Henrico County denies that Lee’s rights were violated and denies that she is entitled to the $1 million she’s seeking.

Court documents show Henrico County contends the man who got the job had the equivalent combination of experience and training to meet the minimum qualifications for the position. It goes on to reveal that an entire interview panel felt the male applicant was best for the job.

Henrico County’s defense team asked a federal judge to dismiss the case on summary judgement, but the judge denied that request. That decision cleared the way for Lee to take her case to trial.

“The judge is saying that there is a question of fact that the jury needs to decide” Brown added.

The Plaintiff’s attorney said the playing field wasn’t level and they believed the person who got the job was given an unfair advantage by Henrico County’s Human Resources department.

Brown said the department used separate criteria to select one candidate, but applied another to his client.

“That concerned us because there was no notice to her that this would be the focus of the interview. Yet, we discovered that someone from the H-R department contacted the other applicant to give him tips and advice and he walks in the interview better prepared. I say better prepared in that my client has no idea that this is going to be the focus of the criteria relied upon to make the selection” Brown said.

The attorney said Lee’s federal lawsuit was less about money, than about bringing change to the workplace that she still reports to every day.

“She wants to see some affirmative steps taken to ensure that there is attention brought to the lack of diversity among government employees. She wants other people to see that she is putting herself out there and willing to fight this good fight. She’s hoping other people will be willing to come forward in the face of what are relatively difficult odds” Brown said.

The case will be heard in federal court on March 25 and 26.

CBS 6 News will continue to follow this story and bring you the latest developments as they happen.

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