A veteran United Way of Tarrant County official has filed a lawsuit against the organization saying that she has been discriminated against because of her race and gender.
Marilyn Jones, an African-American who is the organization’s executive vice president, community development and chief impact officer, also asserts that the organization has retaliated against her.
The lawsuit, filed Tuesday, states that Jones, one of three senior-level officials at the United Way, is paid $148,752 while her two white male counterparts are paid more than $200,000.
“Marilyn Jones is a valued contributor here at the United Way of Tarrant County, and has been for many years,” says a statement released Friday by United Way president and CEO Tim McKinney. “We are disappointed she has chosen to sue the organization, and we deny her allegations in the strongest possible terms. However, because there is now a lawsuit underway, we will have no further comment.”
Dallas attorney Karen Fitzgerald, who is representing Jones, said in an email Thursday, “Ms. Jones seeks to be made whole. This includes getting her salary raised to the appropriate level, being made whole for the time period that she was underpaid, and recovering the appropriate compensatory damages for the intangible harms and losses caused by this situation.”
Jones is seeking more than $200,000 but less than $1 million. The lawsuit says she has been with the agency for more than 30 years and has received numerous promotions, with raises each time.
The lawsuit stated that years ago, when she originally became a vice president, Jones reported to Ann Rice, a white female who held the position of executive vice president, community development and chief operating officer. In 2013, Jones was promoted to senior vice president. Rice, who has now retired, was paid an annual salary of $180,000, the lawsuit stated.
In January 2015, Jones complained that she was the victim of race discrimination, believing she was being paid less than her white predecessor, Rice, and given a less prestigious title even though the two had the same job description. Jones was paid $145,479.
On July 1, 2015, Jones was promoted to executive vice president, community development and chief impact officer, supervising about 58 of the 90 employees, managing 65 percent of the organization’s budget, operating two service programs (Area Agency on Aging and 2-1-1 line), supervising two regional offices and representing United Way on numerous boards and committees in the community, according to the lawsuit. She was not given a raise.
Jones believed she would get a raise when additional budget dollars became available because she had seen United Way officials give such raises in the past with other employees, the lawsuit stated. She never did, according to the lawsuit.
In January, Jones’ performance was rated high, and she received seven exceptional ratings in her mid-year review. Jones met with United Way officials in February asking them for a salary survey, but lawyers for the organization refused to give it to her.
Jones filed a charge of discrimination with the Fort Worth Human Relations Commission on March 4. The commission forwarded the claim to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
In the lawsuit, Jones said she suffered retaliation that included being excluded from key meetings, not being informed of key events affecting senior leadership, having her department singled out for review and staff cuts made from her department.
On July 1, Jones received her one-year performance review, her worst in her 30-year career, the lawsuit stated.
The EEOC did not resolve Jones’ charge in 180 days and issued her a notice of right to sue.