Seattle mayor's former press secretary files discrimination suit

Reuters News
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Posted: Oct 14, 2014 5:11 PM

By Victoria Cavaliere

SEATTLE (Reuters) - Seattle Mayor Ed Murray's former press secretary, let go from her brief tenure after several public snafus, has filed a $1 million discrimination lawsuit against the city, the mayor's office said on Tuesday.

Rosalind Brazel, hired when Murray took office in January and released less than three months later, says that, as press secretary, she was the only professional-level African-American in the mayor's office at the time.

In a lawsuit seeking no less than $1 million in damages, Brazel said she was replaced by a white man who was paid more money than the $95,000 annual salary she had been making in the same role.

Murray denied the discrimination allegations in a statement on Tuesday, adding that Brazel "was not well-matched to the demands of the press secretary role."

"I stand behind my decision to make a change at the press secretary position during those early days as one of many changes necessary to bring greater structure and stability to the daily operations inside the mayor's office," Murray said.

Brazel's tenure in the job included several public mistakes, including a Feb. 27 statement issued on Murray's behalf mourning the death of a city official who was still alive, forcing Brazel to issue a retraction.

"The mayor's office was mistakenly informed of the death of Jim Diers. He is alive and well," she wrote.

Prior to that incident, Brazel accidentally sent the media two drafts of a statement and a note addressed to her colleague in January in which Murray praised the passage of legislation allowing financial aid for students illegally brought to the United States as children.

A follow up email to reporters came with the subject line "DISREGARD!!!"

Brazel's attorney could not immediately be reached for comment about the lawsuit.

(Reporting by Victoria Cavaliere; Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Andre Grenon)