Suit Alleges Race Bias by O.C. Assessor

Jean O. Pasco, Los Angeles Times, Jan. 11, 2006

A senior auditor-appraiser in the Orange County assessor’s office contends in a lawsuit that he was passed over for promotion to a mid-level management job because he is white.

Ronald Cooper filed the racial-discrimination suit in Orange County Superior Court against Assessor Webster J. Guillory, the only African American to hold a countywide elected position in Orange County. Cooper alleged that he lost the manager’s job to an African American he called less qualified.

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The lawsuit contends that Cooper, who was hired at the assessor’s office in 1977, applied for a managing auditor-appraiser job in March and emerged the top-ranked candidate after a panel interview. In August, while Cooper was on vacation, the suit says, another manager in the assessor’s office announced that Brian Ennis, a senior auditor-appraiser, was hired for the job.

“Ennis’ score at the interview was a distant second” to Cooper’s, according to the suit. When Cooper returned from vacation and asked what happened, he was told the hiring decision had been Guillory’s, the suit says.

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