Sergeant with Alachua County Sheriff’s Office files federal discrimination lawsuit after not getting promoted

Updated: Jun. 21, 2021 at 6:27 PM EDT
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) - A sergeant with the Alachua County Sheriff’s Office filed a lawsuit at the federal level claiming she was discriminated against, but officials with the sheriff’s office said they feel their investigation, which found no discrimination, was valid.

Sgt. Pamela James has been with the sheriff’s office for more than 20 years.

She said while trying to get promoted to lieutenant, she was passed up for the position six times.

“I felt that it was race discrimination because all the people that were promoted before me were all Caucasian,” said Sgt. James.

She said she wishes her experience on the job was taken into consideration as much as her test score.

James said when Sadie Darnell became sheriff, she required everyone going for the promotion to get a degree, so James got the degree she thought she needed.

“What I experienced was that the policies continued to change to allow people who weren’t qualified to test at the time, to be eligible to test, who were all Caucasian,” she said.

While James is persistent in following through with this discrimination lawsuit, the sheriff’s office says promotions are done based on test scores, and test scores only.

“Mrs. James’ scores in 2013, and again in 2017, were the lowest ranking scores as compared to the others,” said Art Forgey, public information officer, ACSO.

Forgey said a third party administers the tests and they’re all exactly the same.

“The investigation didn’t find any form of discrimination. It found that everything was by the book, and by our policies, and by our procedures,” he said. “One of the last things we ever want to do is hear that someone feels discriminated against.”

Forgey said that any employee unhappy with their score can study and retake the test every two years to be considered for a promotion.

The court ordered a mediation, but as of now, there is no resolution.

It’s set to go back to court to face a judge again.

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