A federal judge has found Jefferson County in contempt of a federal hiring order. He has now ordered a receiver to be placed over the Human Resources Department to end 39 years of discriminatory hiring and promotions.
In the ruling, Judge Lynwood Smith called Jefferson County's disregard for a decades old federal hiring order "a badge of shame." He said it "establish a thirty-year pattern of intentional, willful disobedience of this court's orders."
"While the imposition of a receivership is, under normal circumstances, a remedy of last resort, it is fully justified in the present circumstances. This court finds that no other remedy would be adequate to correct the effects of three decades of blatantly contumacious conduct," wrote Smith.
The receiver will oversee all hiring and promotions within Jefferson County to ensure women and minorities are considered on an equal basis. That person will take all direction from the court.
"This is a road map for us to end this consent decree once and for all. We are looking forward to working with the courts," said Jefferson County manager Tony Petelos. "One thing for sure- as the appointing authority, I will comply with the courts."
Petelos says the county attorneys are still reviewing the 147 page order.
The county and the plaintiffs have until September 20 to submit lists of potential candidates, as well as define the role of the receiver and suggest guidelines to ensure fair practices.
The county will have to provide office space, as well as pay for the salary of the receiver. No salary has been set.
Department budget meetings are already underway for the new fiscal year, which begins October 1. The county manager does not believe the receiver's salary will result in any cuts because additional money was already being budgeted to HR in anticipation of court ordered changes.