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Forest ranger files race bias lawsuit

By JENNIFER FARRELL

© St. Petersburg Times,
published September 15, 2001


BROOKSVILLE -- A forest ranger who was denied a promotion last year has filed a racial discrimination lawsuit against the state Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Division of Forestry.

According to a civil complaint filed Thursday in Circuit Court, Michael L. Brown, who is black, was turned down for a promotion in favor of a white co-worker with less experience and lower test scores.

Brown, of 6216 Layton Ave., Spring Hill, also experienced retaliation after filing a complaint in March 2000 with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the complaint stated.

Brown, 33, was hired in October 1987. He applied, tested and interviewed for a forest area supervisor position that came open in December 1999.

The job was advertised but not posted on the employee board, as was customary, according to the complaint.

A supervisor gave a white employee an application for the job but did not give one to Brown, even though he had more experience and higher test scores than any applicant, according to the complaint.

In March 2000, Brown filed a grievance with the EEOC. Afterward, the complaint states, he was refused a chance to go to Montana to fight a forest fire as a crew boss and his truck and administrative duties were taken away.

Brown was also denied a transfer, according to the complaint.

Brown could not be reached Friday for comment.

Elaine Cooper, chief of personnel for the state Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, said she was unaware of the suit and could not comment on it.

- Staff writer Jennifer Farrell covers Spring Hill and can be reached at 848-1432. Send e-mail to farrell@sptimes.com.

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