Dismissed Senate member receives millions in discrimination lawsuit
PHOENIX (AP) – A jury awarded $ 2.75 million to an Arizona legislative staff member who said she was fired from her post as political adviser to the Democrats in the state Senate in because of discrimination based on race and sex.
This week’s verdict marks the second trial victory for Talonya Adams, a black woman who acted as her own lawyer and witness. Adams received $ 1 million in 2019 and returned to his job, but a federal judge ordered a new trial last year.
On Tuesday, a new jury sided with Adams again after a three-day trial and awarded even more damages, though the total is likely to be reduced to 300,000 $ due to a cap on judgments of employment discrimination under federal law.
Adams alleged she was fired in 2015 for raising questions about the process for getting a raise, noting that she was earning less than her white male colleagues.
“I really hope the message he sends is to people of color and women and marginalized people that if they are discriminated against in the workplace, there are remedies under the law that they should sue and fight for justice, ”Adams said Thursday.
The case has become a liability for Katie Hobbs, the frontrunner for the Democratic nomination for the governor of Arizona who was the Democratic leader of the Senate when Adams was fired in 2015. Hobbs was not named accused but was involved in the decision to fire Adams and testified in both trials.
She told the jury this week that the firing was a consensus decision made by a group that included the Republican and Democratic Senate chiefs of staff, KPNX-TV reported. Hobbs, now Arizona Secretary of State, said she had “lost faith” in Adams, citing in part the political adviser’s emergency leave to care for her son out of state, and she wished she had been a “better ally” for Adams.
Two Democrats running against Hobbs in the Democratic primary clung to the verdict and issued scathing statements.
“We need to have an open and honest discussion about what happened, who is responsible, and whether we as Democrats are prepared to support a candidate for governor who behaved in this way there is. was just a few years old, ”said Aaron Lieberman, an investor and former state lawmaker, wrote.
Marco Lopez, businessman and former mayor of Nogales, said the verdict “raises serious questions” which Hobbs “must answer”.
“As governor, I will not tolerate this type or any type of discriminatory behavior in my administration,” he wrote.
Jennah Rivera, spokesperson for the Hobbs campaign, said Hobbs had fought for salary increases for Democratic staff during his tenure as Senate Minority Leader, but that staff decisions lie at the end of the day. account to the Republican chief of staff.
“The state legislature, both in 2015 and today, is led by Republicans who pay their employees more than Democratic Senate staff – who are considerably more diverse than Republican staff,” Rivera said in a statement. “This problem is systemic, it persists today and needs to be corrected.”
Adams said she would campaign against Hobbs if asked to do so.
“I don’t think she’s fit to serve,” Adams said. “I don’t think she’s a person who should have the power or the authority to govern the citizens of Arizona.”