The ousted diversity director for St. Louis County alleges in a lawsuit that she was dismissed in retaliation for publicly complaining about minorities being excluded in contracts.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that Hazel Erby, a longtime council member and the first Black woman to serve on the legislative body, alleges violations of Missouri’s whistleblower statute in the suit filed Friday.
At issue is a $1.67 million emergency morgue announced in April as part of the county’s COVID-19 pandemic response.
The suit said that although part of her role was to enforce statutes requiring minority inclusion in contracts, the county never informed her of the project until it was nearly complete. Less than $1,000 of work on the project went to minority contractors.
When she confronted County Executive Sam Page and complained, he fired her in August, the suit says.
“That was a county statute that Mrs. Erby championed when she was on the council, and that Sam Page hired her to enforce as part of his administration,” said Josh Pierson, an attorney representing Erby. “Once she was there and insisted on compliance, apparently the county didn’t like that.”
Doug Moore, spokesman for Page, said he cannot comment on pending litigation.