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#3086: Fort Lauderdale discriminated again (fwd)


Published Saturday, April 1, 2000, in the Miami Herald 

 Finding: Fort Lauderdale discriminated again
 BY BRAD BENNETT  bbennett@herald.com 

 For the fifth time this year, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity
Commission has determined that Fort Lauderdale discriminated against
minority employees. The most recent decision found that two black city
employees, one of whom is Haitian, were denied promotions based on race
and ethnicity. The finding sets the stage for the two men, Timothy St.
Fleur and John Patten, to sue the city. ``We propose to contest the
findings,'' City Manager Floyd Johnson said in a memo to city
commissioners on Friday.
 St. Fleur, a city landscaper, was promoted to a job as a tree trimmer
following his complaint to the EEOC, said his attorney, Reginald Clyne.
But St. Fleur was initially ``denied a promotion because of his national
origin, Haitian, and race, black,'' states the March 24 determination
from Federico Costales, district director of the EEOC's Miami district
office. Also, the ruling states, St. Fleur ``was subjected to a racially
hostile environment and to adverse retaliatory actions'' after his 1997
complaint. ``He was told by a supervisor that he should go back to
Haiti,'' Clyne said of St. Fleur, who lives in Fort Lauderdale.
 St. Fleur said his supervisor told him, ``You're Haitian. We don't want
no Haitians in the tree trimmer'' position. Clyne said the city also
retaliated by withholding back pay and bonuses from St. Fleur because he
filed the complaint.
 Gordon Rogers, an attorney for the city, wrote in a memo that the city
 investigated St. Fleur's complaint and found that none of his
co-workers could back up the allegations of racial slurs. Also, Rogers
said, the city corrected the problem by promoting St. Fleur prior to
 the EEOC's decision. The EEOC finding comes after a July memo from the
city's own diversity manager, Yolanda Cowart, who told the city it had
discriminated against St. Fleur and retaliated against him for
complaining of discrimination, Clyne said. ``They did not listen to
her,'' he said.

 The other March 24 EEOC ruling found that Patten, an African-American
city wastewater plant operator, was denied the opportunity for a
promotion because he is black. Patten wanted to take a course that would
teach him how to advance as a plant operator, Clyne said. But the city
would not allow him to take the course -- even while white co-workers
were allowed to take it, Clyne said. Rogers said the city was never put
on notice for the charge that Patten was denied a promotion, and
therefore had no chance to respond. The two cases mark the fourth and
fifth time in the last two months that the EEOC has ruled against the
city in discrimination claims along the lines of race, gender and
national origin and retaliation from city employees. Previously, the
EEOC found the city discriminated against two black city engineering
inspectors and a black firefighter. ``It should be crystal clear to
everyone now that there is a problem in the workplace at the city of
Fort Lauderdale,'' said Elgin Jones, a black city employee who according
to the EEOC was also denied a promotion because of his race.