MARCH 3, 2015. A state-court jury today awarded our client both lost wages and pain and suffering following a verdict finding that the Florida Department of Children & Families discriminated against him on the basis of his gender. Our client, employed with the agency since 1994, repeatedly sought to promote up but found his path blocked over and again. Evidence presented to the jury showed that his qualifications in various categories were routinely scored as “1’s” on a scale of 1-5. But female candidates would be scored “4’s” for the same or lesser qualifications. The promotional decisionmakers were overwhelmingly female, as were the winning candidates over a long stretch of time. The jury deliberated for under three hours before deciding in favor of the client. The actual lawsuit can be found here.
There was a last minute twist to the case that could have prevented a trial at all. Our client had agreed to accept about $30,000.00 for his losses, hoping to avoid the need for a trial. In fact, he believed he had a deal with DCF, and so did our firm. But DCF took a different view, claiming there was no actual agreement because of a minor variation in the parties’ proposals. This “deal or no deal” dispute was presented to the trial judge on an emergency basis last Thursday. After hearing from both sides, the judge agreed with the agency, ruling that there was no enforceable deal. Thus, the judge determined, the case would proceed to jury selection the next morning, Friday, and the presentation of witnesses would begin this past Monday. The entire trial lasted two days.
The agency might be rethinking the wisdom of fighting the chance to resolve this for just $30,000.00. With the verdict, fees and costs, it will now pay our client and the firm in excess of $200,000.00.
The case is Fountain v. State of Florida, Department of Children & Families, Case No. 2012-CA-2901 (Fla 2d. Jud. Cir.) Marie Mattox handled the case at trial for our client.