3.05.2014

Jasper, Texas’ first Black police chief lands record breaking settlement of $831,000


(Source: Aframnews.com) After wrongfully terminating Jasper’s first black Police Chief because of his race, the City of Jasper and other Co-Defendants agreed to pay former Chief of Police Rodney Pearson $831,000.00 to settle a federal civil rights lawsuit he filed over two years ago.

This settlement is the largest Employment Discrimination verdict/settlement in Jasper County history and one if not the largest in East Texas history.

“The Pearsons want to thank the countless well-wishers who stood by their side during this nightmarish ordeal, and are comforted by the words,” said Cade Bernsen, of the Bernsen Law Firm and the attorney who represented the Pearsons. “The pain, embarrassment and hardship the Pearson family endured can never be compensated fully in monetary terms, but their family is hopeful that yet another light is shown bright upon Jasper, Texas.”

The claims alleged against the City of Jasper were discrimination under Title VII, violation of §1981; violations of procedural and substantive due process, violations of the Texas Government Code and two separate claims for conspiracy under §1983 and §1985(3).

On February 14, 2011, Rodney Pearson made history becoming Jasper’s first African American Interim Chief of Police. What ensued was akin to a cheap rendition of Blazing Saddles, minus the humor. What the evidence showed was that Rodney Pearson was more than qualified to be Jasper’s Police Chief and the sole reason for his termination was because of his race.

In an effort to prevent Chief Pearson from becoming Jasper’s first full-time Police Chief, on February 17, 2011, City of Jasper officials intentionally posted different qualification and education requirements than were set forth in Jasper’s handbook. Additionally, Jasper officials attempted to implement a “scoring system” or “matrix” that had never been used for any pervious white Chief and was not used to hire the current white Chief. During this litigation the City admitted that this “scoring system” was tailored to and founded upon the inaccurate job 2 posting. Neither the scoring system nor the changed job posting were ever approved by the then majority black City Council. [READ MORE]



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