Kyle Barnett Jul. 16, 2014, 5:25pm


NEW ORLEANS – The Town of Independence is being sued by the head of the Tangipahoa Parish chapter of the NAACP claiming she was terminated from her position as a clerk because of her race.

Patricia A. Morris filed suit against the Town of Independence and Michael Ragusa in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana on June 30.

Morris, who is black, asserts that in March 2013 she became employed by the Town of Independence as a clerk in the Water and Sewer Department and that on Oct. 24, 2013 she was told by Ragusa, mayor of Independence, who is white, that she was being terminated from her position because the town was cutting back on spending. However, the plaintiff alleges shortly after she was let go, Ragusa hired a white male as a superintendent in the Water and Sewer Department and also later hired a white female as a clerk – in the same position she was previously terminated from.

Morris also contends that when she had applied for the position it was listed as full-time with benefits, but when she was hired she was only allowed to work three days a week and was never given full-time hours or benefits. During her time with the Town of Independence, the plaintiff claims she never had any disciplinary procedures initiated against her.

The defendant is accused of violating the plaintiff’s civil rights by treating her unfairly on the basis of her race and depriving the plaintiff of equal protection under the law.

An unspecified amount in damages is sought for emotional and mental anguish, anxiety, depression, humiliation, embarrassment, loss of enjoyment of life, medical expenses, back pay, reinstatement and punitive damages.

Morris is representing herself pro se in the case.

The case has been assigned to U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier.

Case no. 2:14-cv-01523.

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