By Mike Linn
A Roosevelt County jury has acquitted Clovis Community College of allegations of discrimination filed against the college by a former administrator.
Laura Jane Flores, a former Portales resident and former dean of instruction at CCC, filed a lawsuit against the college and CCC President Beverlee McClure claiming she was fired in March of 2002 as a result of racial discrimination and breach of contract.
Court records show the jury ruled that Flores’ race was not a “substantial or motivating factor” in the college’s decision to terminate Flores.
The jury also found there was no implied contract of employment between Flores and CCC that Flores would only be discharged for cause.
Flores, who is Hispanic and worked at CCC for one year, was let go because of a budget crunch following the events of 9/11, according to a statement by CCC attorney Steven L. Bell.
At the time of her dismissal, Flores was the most recently hired administrator and was one of three administrators terminated because of the $400,000 budget shortfall, Bell said. Bell said CCC felt it more appropriate to cut administrators rather than faculty at the college.
“There was absolutely no evidence that the elimination of Dr. Flores’ position was in any way motivated by race discrimination or that any breach of contract occurred,” Bell said in a statement.
Flores declined comment on the case.
Bell said Flores’ attorney, Eric Dixon of Portales, asked the jury to award his client more than $1 million in damages.
Reached by phone on Tuesday, Dixon twice denied he was part of a jury trial last week involving CCC. He said the discrimination case was still pending. His meaning was not clear in light of court documents.
Dixon did not return a phone call Wednesday seeking additional comment.
Told of Dixon’s claim, Bell laughed, then said: “Gosh, I wonder what I was doing then. I must have been in the twilight zone. That is pretty strange.”
The jury returned its verdict on Friday, Bell said.
Other accusations of discrimination have been filed against CCC.
Earlier this year, Clovis resident Angelina Baca-Rodriguez received a $24,000 out-of-court settlement after she filed a federal lawsuit alleging racial discrimination against the college.
Baca-Rodriguez claimed in her lawsuit that she was not selected as the director of TRIO Student Support Services at the college because she is Hispanic, Bell said in March.
In that case, Bell said CCC believed no discrimination occurred but the college’s insurance company made the decision because court and attorney fees would have cost an additional $10,000 to continue the court dispute.
The college was also accused in two additional complaints of racial discrimination filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
Bell said the EEOC found those complaints in the college’s favor.