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Kentucky Jail Guards Win $872,000 in Discrimination, Retaliation Suit After Appellate Remand

Kelvin Brooks, a guard at the jail in Jefferson County, Kentucky, was black and had a race-related skin disease (PFB) that was irritated by shaving, so he wore a beard. Ron Bishop, the jail director, fired Brooks for refusing to comply with the jail's no-facial-hair policy. Bishop also retaliated against Brooks' supervisor, Donna Martin, by making inappropriate comments and assigning her less meaningful duties because she supported Brooks.

Brooks and Martin filed suit in state court, where the judge required them to prove hybrid claims of retaliation and a hostile work environment. They lost, and on appeal the appellate court found the evidentiary requirement to be inappropriate; the case was remanded. See: Brooks v. Jefferson Co. Fiscal Court, Court of Appeals of Kentucky, Case No. 1999-CA-000624-MR (Dec. 24, 2003); 2003 WL 23005603.

The second time around, a jury found for both Brooks and Martin. Brooks was awarded $3,500 for lost wages and $3,500 for emotional suffering, while Martin was awarded $175,000 in lost wages and $650,000 for emotional suffering, for a total of $832,000.

Additional source: 10 Kentucky Trial Court Review No. 8 (2005)

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Related legal case

Brooks v. Jefferson Co. Fiscal Court