A federal court ruling Tuesday afternoon means Jefferson County has temporarily lost the authority to hire and fire employees.
Judge Lynwood Smith has appointed a federal receiver to take over hiring and firing in the county. This move is part of a federal lawsuit which challenged the county's hiring practices of women and African Americans. It specifically accused the county of not hiring or promoting these two groups.
The county was sued by the federal government for discrimination in 1975. In 1982, the county entered into a consent decree and agreed to improve fair hiring practices. Plaintiffs in the case later complained and wanted the federal court to hold the county in contempt for failing to live up to this original consent decree.
A trial on the matter began in 2009 and wrapped up late in 2012. At that time, Jefferson County agreed that it had failed to live up to the consent decree and would agree to letting a monitor work with them.
However, Judge Smith says a monitor is not sufficient and ruled instead to appoint a receiver.
Jefferson County Manager Tony Petelos says the county will work with the courts and he hopes that this can end a 39-year legal battle.
"This gives us a road map to once and for all...to end the consent decree.... So this is our road map. We are looking forward to complying with the courts," he said.
Reporter Alan Collins is following this story and you can follow him on Twitter @fox6alancollins for updates.
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