Sunday, February 25, 2018
News Roundup

Pasco County Fair fires office manager in civil rights settlement

DADE CITY — A longtime Pasco County Fair employee has been fired four years after the fair's governing board settled a discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Department of Justice.

Virginia McKendree, the fair association's office manager, was dismissed after a board meeting Monday night, said Hutch Brock, the group's attorney. He said McKendree, an employee for more than 15 years, would remain on the job until July 14 to train others to perform her duties. The nonprofit group has only a handful of paid staffers.

McKendree and the board officers declined to comment and referred all questions to Brock, who said the firing was related to a 2010 consent order with the federal agency.

"The board wants the public to know they are taking whatever steps they need to to make sure that everyone is treated fairly," Brock said. "Sometimes you have to make a change."

The move came four years after the group settled with the Justice Department over the lawsuit that arose when several Hispanic women complained they were discriminated against.

The women said they were quoted a price of $1,000 to rent Dan Cannon Auditorium, a banquet hall at the fairgrounds on State Road 52 in Dade City. They said that when it was revealed they were Hispanic, the price went up.

The women filed a complaint with the American Civil Liberties Union, which alerted the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division. The government's independent investigation used individuals who posed as renters to gather information about possible discriminatory practices. The investigation uncovered evidence of possible discrimination.

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