Court denies judgment in employment discrimination case against Brevard County sheriff

By Takesha Thomas | Jan 16, 2019

ORLANDO -- A U.S. district court in Florida has denied a motion for summary judgment filed in an employment discrimination case against the Brevard County sheriff. 

U.S. District Judge Roy B. Dalton Jr., on Jan. 7 denied both Romel Saweress and Brevard County Sheriff Wayne Ivey's separate motions for summary judgment. Saweress, a former deputy sheriff with the Brevard County Sheriff's Department, filed suit in late 2017 after he was denied a position. 

According to the filing, Saweress first filed suit in August 2017 with the Equal Employment Opportunity, alleging discrimination before filing a five-count complaint for race and national origin discrimination. Sawaress is Egyptian-American. The court finding said neither Saweress nor Ivey provided enough evidence for summary judgment. 

Sawaress had applied for the deputy sheriff position with the county sheriff's office in May 2014. After it was determined that Sawaress met the minimum requirements for the position, he completed a background questionnaire, according to court documents. This questionnaire included a question regarding his place of birth, which Sawaress says he listed as Alexandria, Egypt. Per the hiring process, Sawaress was scheduled for a July 2014 interview before the three-major oral review board. 

Egyptian-American man denied employment discrimination claim against Brevard County Sheriff   morguefile

According to Sawaress during the review, he was asked by at least one major where he learned to speak English. Sawaress says he recalls the major responding, “You still have an accent but you speak good English and I was wondering, like, did you learn it in the United States? You went to school in the United States, or somewhere else?” 

Sawaress contends he was also asked other "inappropriate" questions from the review board such as his religious background and his citizenship. 

The review board in its evaluation, however, wrote in part that Sawaress had "some difficulty understanding some questions of Egyptian decent". Another wrote of a concern there may be "some cultural differences that may make it difficult for him to deal with professionally". Attorneys for Ivey contend that, in fact, Sawaress was denied the position due to "poor interview performance and communications skills."

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