Osceola County Sheriff’s Office Cleared of Liability in Racial Discrimination Case

01.30.08

ORLANDO, FL – The Osceola County Sheriff’s Office has been cleared of liability in the case of a former deputy who filed a lawsuit against the department, claiming he was fired and, subsequently, not rehired on the basis of race. 

Osceola County Sheriff’s Office (OCSO) Deputy John F. Leath was fired in 2002 for what the department classified as “untruthfulness.”  Several years after he was let go, Leath, who is African-American, filed suit against former Osceola County Sheriff Charles Aycock and current Osceola County Sheriff Robert Hansell, each in his official capacity, claiming the deputy was fired and, subsequently, not rehired on the basis of race.  However, in a January 14 ruling, United States District Court Chief Judge Patricia C. Fawsett found former Sheriff Aycock, Sheriff Hansell and the OCSO not liable in the case. 

Rumberger, Kirk & Caldwell Partner Linda Bond represented OCSO in the case.  In explaining the verdict, the Court indicated that Leath failed to establish liability against the OCSO, largely due to the fact that the Career Service Board – not the Sheriff – was the final policymaker for the termination.  The Court did not find that Career Service Board made a racially biased decision or that there was a customary policy or practice of racial discrimination at OCSO.

Bond, who works out of the firm’s Tallahassee office, devotes her litigation practice to the representation of employers in the private and public sectors in matters involving employment and labor issues. 

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Rumberger, Kirk & Caldwell provides litigation and counseling services in a wide range of civil practice areas including products liability, commercial litigation, intellectual property, environmental, employment, insurance, professional liability, health care and administrative law. Offices are located in Orlando, Tampa, Miami, Tallahassee and Birmingham, Alabama.