A former prosecutor has sued Tarrant County, alleging she was passed over for several promotions in the district attorney's office because she is black, but the district attorney's office says the woman's claims were dismissed by a federal agency in September.
Tulani Washington, who worked in the misdemeanor domestic violence unit from July 2015 until she resigned in January, also alleged that black prosecutors were denied promotions so they could train less-experienced white prosecutors, who were then promoted above them.
A statement from District Attorney Sharen Wilson's office called Washington's accusations "completely unfounded" and pointed out that the number of minority employees on Wilson's staff increased from 13.4 percent in 2014 to 21 percent in 2016. Wilson became district attorney in 2015.
Also, the statement said, seven high-ranking supervisor positions on Wilson's staff are held by minorities.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission dismissed Washington's claim in September, according to the statement, ruling that it was "unable to conclude" that Washington's allegations violated federal law.
Washington's attorney, James Greer, was not available for comment Monday.
Washington is seeking more than $100,000 in damages.
She had been a prosecutor for more than a decade before joining the Tarrant County district attorney's office, including working as a special assistant U.S. attorney, according to the lawsuit.
In February 2016, two of her white coworkers were promoted above her, the lawsuit said.
Her supervisors, misdemeanor unit chief Lloyd Whelchel and deputy chief Melinda Westmoreland, explained that the promotions were a result of experience and said that Washington needed more trial experience, the lawsuit said.
Washington was passed over for promotion by another white coworker one month later and two more white coworkers in June 2016.
Washington had more experience than all three coworkers, the lawsuit said, but her supervisors again told her that she needed more trial experience and that she was needed to train newly hired prosecutors.
Washington was passed over for promotions by three white coworkers in July 2016 and four white coworkers in November 2016. Again, Washington had more experience than each of her promoted coworkers, the lawsuit said.
The lawsuit also noted that out of about 15 promotions in the office in November 2016, none were given to minority workers.
The next month, two more white coworkers and two "non-black" coworkers with less experience were promoted over Washington, the lawsuit said.
Washington resigned the next month.
Black prosecutors in the office, the lawsuit said, "were generally required to have more years of experience and better trial stats" to receive the same promotions as their white coworkers.
Wilson's office denied that minority employees have been treated unfairly.
"[Wilson] has worked diligently to promote an inclusive work environment where discrimination of any kind will not be tolerated," the statement from the district attorney's office said.