1. News
  2. /
  3. Hillsborough

Former detective sues Hillsborough Sheriff’s Office, claims discrimination for attention deficit disorder

Demetrius Dixon was a corporal who sought a promotion to sergeant but was instead forced to retire early, the lawsuit says.
Former Hillsborough sheriff's Corporal Demetrius Dixon, inset, filed a lawsuit against the Sheriff's Office on Jan. 7 claiming he was the target of discrimination because of his attention deficit disorder. [Inset photo: Kyle Lee; Main: Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office]
Former Hillsborough sheriff's Corporal Demetrius Dixon, inset, filed a lawsuit against the Sheriff's Office on Jan. 7 claiming he was the target of discrimination because of his attention deficit disorder. [Inset photo: Kyle Lee; Main: Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office]
Published Jan. 17
Updated Jan. 17

TAMPA — A former Hillsborough County sheriff’s detective is suing the Sheriff’s Office, claiming he was the target of discrimination and forced to retire early because of his attention deficit disorder.

Demetrius Dixon, 50, was a corporal when he sought “reasonable accommodations” to take the exam required for a promotion to sergeant, according to the complaint filed Jan. 7 in Hillsborough County. Instead, the complaint says, the Sheriff’s Office required Dixon to take a fitness for duty test and then launched a retaliatory internal affairs investigation against him.

Dixon, 50, agreed to take an early medical retirement in 2019 after he was threatened with possible termination, his attorney, Kyle Lee, said in an interview.

“This is a case about a failure to accommodate, and the unfortunate and illegal assumptions that people make about people with disabilities,” Lee said. “Those people have every right to protection in the workplace.”

A Sheriff’s Office spokesman said the office cannot comment on pending litigation.

The complaint and Lee give this account:

Dixon joined the office as a deputy in 2003 and was promoted to detective in 2009. In 2011, Sheriff Chad Chronister, who was a sergeant at the time, encouraged Dixon to take the corporal’s exam. Dixon passed the exam and was promoted to corporal in 2013.

In or about 2017, Dixon was named acting sergeant, earning praise and high marks in that post. Superiors encouraged him to take the sergeant’s exam so he could be promoted to that post.

He failed the sergeant’s exam twice in 2017. Both times, the suit says, Dixon had difficulty concentrating, reading, focusing and comprehending during the test. A psychiatrist diagnosed him with attention deficit disorder.

According to Lee, Dixon would later test positive for amphetamines, a result of the the medication he was prescribed for the disorder. He presented his prescription to Sheriff’s Office medical staff and he was cleared to continue to use the medication.

Determined to pass the exam, Dixon sent a letter to the Sheriff’s Office in August 2018 asking for “several reasonable accommodations for the test, including orally explaining the test directions and extended time to complete the test," the complaint says.

In a meeting the following month with Chronister, who by then was sheriff, and his Chief Deputy Donna Lusczynski, Chronister “proceeded to berate, disparage, and humiliate (Dixon) based on his disability” and “made discriminatory, presumptive, and disrespectful statements, comments, and assumptions based on (his) disability,” the complaint states.

The suit says Chronister wanted to know how Dixon was reading and editing reports.

“If you can’t comprehend what you are reading in a test, are we comfortable leaving you in a corporal position over a complex squad so we don’t get embarrassed in front of media, or a jury, or anyone else?” Chronister said, according to the complaint.

Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister [URSO, CHRIS | Tampa Bay Times]

Dixon had been a corporal for about five years by that point and no one had questioned Dixon’s ability to do his job, the complaint says.

Not long after that meeting, Lee said, Dixon took leave to have surgery on his hand and when he returned in early 2019 passed a standard fitness-for-duty exam. About a month later, the Sheriff’s Office informed him he would have to take a second exam, speak with a psychiatrist and bring his prescribed medication, according to Lee.

Requiring the second exam "was a discriminatory act based solely on Plaintiff’s disability and request for accommodation,” the complaint says.

When Dixon filed a grievance to contest the required second exam, the Sheriff’s Office immediately launched an internal affairs investigation, the suit says. He was later informed he was no longer fit for duty and needed to take medical retirement or could face termination.

Dixon is seeking damages in excess of $712,000, an amount based on the income and benefits he would have received if he hadn’t been forced to retire, Lee said.


  1. Express Parcel Service says is plans to close its facilities at the Amazon flex distribution center at 9900 18th Street N in St. Petersburg, as well as in Tampa, Miami, Fort Myers and Palmetto. (Google street view)
  2. Luis Espel, 22, uses the Cass Street bike lane to commute to work in Tampa. Times (2019)
  3. Handsome Boy, Harry, Sasha and Eden are looking for their forever homes.
  4. Justin Callahan, 34, from St. Pete, looks out to the water as the sunrises on a crips morning at North Shore Park on Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2019 in St. Petersburg.
  5. Deputies are looking for a shirtless man who stole a gun from a pickup truck near Plant City on Friday morning and later fired rounds at a convenience store.
  6. Divers from the Florida Aquarium and local dive shops collected beads from the waters around Davis Islands during a post-Gasparilla cleanup Saturday.
  7. Like the rest of Florida, and Tampa in particular, MacDill Air Force Base treated African Americans as second class citizens in its early days during World War II. The history is surfacing again as archaeologists prepare to search for graves that might have been left behind in a black cemetery when the base was developed.
  8. Florida Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran said Friday that a Hillsborough judge's ruling striking down a tourism marketing fee applied to hotel room charges was a "victory for taxpayers."
  9. Hillsborough County Commission chair Les Miller.
  10. Clay County Schools Superintendent Addison Davis (wearing a pink tie), center, takes photos with the  Hillsborough County Public Schools board members after being voted unaminous as the new incoming superintendent in Tampa, Florida on Tuesday, January 21, 2020.
  11. Two men used a sledgehammer to punch a hole through the wall of a Metro PCS Store in an attempt to burglarize the business Thursday in Tampa.
  12. The Related Group proposes to build two condominium towers, represented by the two buildings in the middle of this rendering, with 168 luxury condos on Bayshore Boulevard south of W Bay-to-Bay Boulevard in Tampa. In this rendering, the see-through figures represent the planned Aquatica condo project to the north and the existing Stovall on Bayshore condo tower to the south. (Rendering courtesy of the Related Group)