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Fired Sun Dome employee sues, claiming discrimination

TAMPA — A former housekeeping manager at the University of South Florida Sun Dome has filed a lawsuit contending he was fired because he is black.

Darrell Martin, 50, of Lakeland worked for the Sun Dome from January 2001 to July 2009, according to his suit, filed Wednesday in Hillsborough Circuit Court.

Martin said he had an excellent employment record and earned several promotions, but fell out of favor after he got a new supervisor, Chris Paras. Paras harassed Martin, fired him, then went on to fire 13 of 14 black housekeeping employees and replace them with non-black employees, according to the suit.

The suit, which seeks more than $15,000 in damages, was filed by the same law firm that represents Jim Leavitt in his lawsuit over his termination as USF's football coach.

Paras declined to comment Thursday. USF spokesman Michael Hoad noted that the Sun Dome is a direct-support organization, a separate, not-for-profit organization created to manage the operations of the facility.

"Because Mr. Martin is not an employee of the University of South Florida, this case will be handled through the legal process in court," Hoad said in an e-mail to the Times. "The university always takes allegations of racism seriously, and, as we have in the past, will always review an allegation made by an employee."

Fired Sun Dome employee sues, claiming discrimination 10/21/10 [Last modified: Thursday, October 21, 2010 10:21pm]
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