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Justice Department Sues Robertson Fire Protection District for Alleged Racial Discrimination


WASHINGTON – The Department of Justice today filed a lawsuit against St. Louis County, Mo., alleging racial discrimination and retaliation against black former fire inspectors at the Robertson Fire Protection District (FPD).

The government’s complaint alleges that Ephraim Woods Jr. and Lamont Downer, who were employed as fire inspectors between 1999 and 2004, were demoted to the position of firefighter in June 2004 because of their race and because they had filed charges of race discrimination and retaliation against Robertson FPD with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

“No American should have to endure discrimination in the workplace, or live with the fear that an employer will retaliate against them when discriminatory actions are reported,” said Wan J. Kim, Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights. “The Department of Justice will continue to vigorously pursue violations of Title VII.”

“Compliance with Title VII’s anti-discrimination provisions is mandatory. We will not permit publicly-funded employers, particularly public safety agencies, to discriminate against employees because of their race or because they complain about what they reasonably believe to be race discrimination or retaliation,” said Catherine L. Hanaway, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Missouri.

The continued enforcement of Title VII has been a priority of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. Additional information about the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department is available on its Web site at


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