Sarasota employee files racial discrimination claim

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Lorrie Ann Simmons, a former African American manager in the City of Sarasota Finance Department, has filed a Federal Discrimination complaint against the Director of the Finance Department and the issue will be discussed at an Aug. 19 Special Commission Meeting.

Simmons in her complaint, which was filed with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, says she was passed over twice by Finance Department Director Kelly Strickland for the Deputy Finance Director position. Simmons says that she was told she was qualified and then a white male was chosen who was subsequently dismissed. Simmons in her complaint says that after that dismissal, Strickland offered the job to a white female budget analyst who lacked training in the position.

Simmons ended up resigning from the City on Aug. 7, and in her complaint said that Strickland had made racist comments and racially insensitive remarks.

Adding to this employee relations discord within City Staff is the fact that two other employees have since complained of discrimination in other departments.

The accusations and filing of the complaint has led to Sarasota City Mayor Jen Ahearn-Koch writing in an Aug. 10 letter to Commissioner Liz Alpert that the upcoming meeting on Aug. 19 will center on not only the allegations but also City Manager Tom Barwin’s handling of the situations.

Ahearn-Koch wrote that the meeting will focus on, “The multiple allegations/incidents and the City Manager’s handling of these incidents, culture his administration has created that allows this behavior, and lack of communication of serious internal issues like this to the City Commissioners charged with effecting executive authority over the City Manager.”

City Commissioner Hagen Brody requested the special meeting which will be held as a virtual meeting starting at 6 p.m.

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1 Response for “Sarasota employee files racial discrimination claim”

  1. Gene Ahearn says:

    Sounds like the city manager has already been found guilty.

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