A former well being director has filed a federal lawsuit claiming he resigned from his job in 2021 as a result of the Williamson County decide racially discriminated towards him and that the well being board didn’t examine his complaints.
County Decide Invoice Gravell has denied the allegations.
Derrick Neal, who’s Black, filed the go well with towards the Williamson County and Cities Well being District. When Neal was director of the well being district, he labored intently with Gravell throughout the COVID-19 pandemic as a result of Gravell was the designated incident commander, based on the lawsuit.
Neal additionally reported to the chair of the well being board, who’s appointed by the Commissioners Courtroom and the county decide, the lawsuit mentioned.
Gravell referred to Neal as “rubbish” and criticized his dealing with of vaccines throughout the COVID-19 pandemic however didn’t criticize Neal’s white co-workers, the lawsuit mentioned. It additionally mentioned a former well being district board member instructed him Gravell had made feedback about him that “had been so inappropriate that they didn’t bear repeating, given their offensive and distasteful racial nature.”
Gravell denied any wrongdoing in a press release.
“I’m conscious of the wrong and false allegations asserted about me in a lawsuit filed by Mr. Derrick Neal towards his former employer, the Williamson County & Cities Well being District,” Gravell mentioned. “These shameful statements unjustly assault my character and my dedication to service for all residents of our group.
“It’s my hope that these allegations can be demonstrated for what they’re to the federal district courtroom and, within the curiosity of saving public funds higher devoted to offering necessary well being companies to the various residents served by Williamson County & Cities Well being District, there’s a immediate decision of this case.”
Neal didn’t reply to a request for touch upon the lawsuit, filed in July. The eight-member board of administrators mentioned it had not but been served with the lawsuit and would don’t have any remark till the following assembly on Wednesday.
The lawsuit mentioned Gravell instructed folks in Neal’s division throughout December 2020 that Neal was “inappropriately utilizing vaccines.” Neal was not, based on the lawsuit. He was “performing in accordance with the Texas Division of State Well being Providers Pointers when prioritizing first responders within the distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine,” the go well with mentioned.
It mentioned Gravell didn’t criticize Neal’s white co-workers who adopted the identical procedures of vaccine distribution. Neal complained to the district’s board that he was the sufferer of a race-based hostile work surroundings perpetuated by Gravell, the go well with mentioned. The board, based on the lawsuit, didn’t examine Neal’s criticism.
The board additionally failed to research when Neal reported to it that former board Chair Marlene McMichael had instructed him that Gravell made racist feedback about him, the go well with mentioned.
In February 2021, well being district Deputy Director Justine Value instructed Neal that Gravell known as her late at evening on a number of events to debate Neal, based on the lawsuit.
“Ms. Value detected that Decide Gravell’s tirade about Mr. Neal was motivated by racial animus, given, amongst different issues, that the Decide didn’t exhibit such habits when talking about White staff,” the go well with mentioned.
Neal mentioned, based on the authorized submitting, that he then despatched an e mail to the well being district board in February 2021 complaining about racial discrimination, however the board once more failed to research the criticism.
Gravell then despatched Neal an “ominous and threatening e mail” saying that Neal’s disagreement with Gravell’s and Gov. Greg Abbott’s positions on COVID-19 vaccine administration was not “wholesome or clever,” the lawsuit mentioned. It didn’t present additional particulars about what the disagreement was about. Gravell didn’t ship that sort of e mail to any white worker in an identical place as Neal’s, the lawsuit mentioned.
Extra:Former Williamson well being director hid cellphone to illegally report conferences, lawsuit says
It mentioned Gravell additionally had “preferred” a social media publish in 2019 that depicted the sexual mutilation of an African American male. The lawsuit didn’t present additional particulars in regards to the publish. The American-Statesman reported in 2019 that Gravell “preferred” a Fb publish by former Williamson County sheriff’s Cmdr. Steve Deaton that confirmed a toy elf holding a sequence noticed over the plastic determine of a Black soccer participant whose legs had been lower off on the knees beneath a U.S. flag. There was a pool of blood beneath the chain noticed, and the publish known as the elf “patriotic.”
It alluded to then-NFL participant Colin Kaepernick taking a knee throughout the nationwide anthem earlier than a 2016 recreation to protest police brutality towards African Individuals and different minorities. Gravell instructed the Statesman on the time that he felt strongly that individuals shouldn’t disrespect the American flag however didn’t condone the violent nature of the publish. He additionally mentioned he ought to have given extra consideration to what was being portrayed and never preferred the publish.
Extra:Fb posts by Williamson sheriff’s commander draw ire
Neal, who’s now the chief public well being officer for town of Cambridge, Mass., mentioned he had no alternative however to resign in October 2021, sensing that his well being and well-being had been at risk, the lawsuit mentioned.
A lawsuit that the well being district filed towards Neal in September has a distinct model of occasions.
It mentioned the district board met in two government classes in September 2021 and October 2021 to debate Neal’s racial discrimination claims after he despatched it a letter in August 2021 in regards to the claims and made a requirement for a “substantial” severance package deal. The district denied Neal’s allegations of racial discrimination, based on the lawsuit, which remains to be pending.
It accused Neal of hiding a cellphone to secretly make recordings of the 2 government classes, which he wasn’t allowed to attend. The lawsuit requested that Neal’s cellphone not be returned to him till the recordings had been faraway from the gadget and server.
.Neal was placed on administrative depart on Oct. 13, 2021, pending an investigation, and he resigned the following day, the lawsuit mentioned. It mentioned Neal had filed a racial discrimination declare with the Equal Employment Alternative Fee.
Neal was charged with two counts of trying to reveal a recording of a closed assembly, Class C misdemeanors. He pleaded responsible in September and was sentenced to pay a $500 superb for every depend.