Oakland Council Approves Settlement in Racial Discrimination Suit

The Oakland City Council has approved a $295,000 settlement of a racial discrimination suit that was filed by a former deputy city attorney who is white.

Charles Vose, who is now 58, alleged in his 2017 suit in Alameda County Superior Court that City Attorney Barbara Parker, who is black, routinely passed him over for promotions that went to attorneys who were younger and were minorities despite what his lawyer said were his "superior qualifications and extensive experience."

Vose's suit also alleged that Parker retaliated against him when he complained and after he refused to comply with her request that he prioritize race in making hiring decisions for summer law clerks in the Oakland City Attorney's Office.

The suit charges, "Mr. Vose's experience is part of a pattern and practice in the City Attorney's Office of discrimination based on race and age."

But Parker denied Vose's allegations in briefs she filed in his case.

Parker said competency and experience alone are not sufficient to be promoted to supervisory roles and successful candidates must have the skills, experience, ethics and temperament to successfully lead others in the office.

Parker said other candidates for supervisory positions possessed those qualities and were better suited for the positions.

Parker also said half the supervisors she appointed were white and several were older than Vose.

In a letter to the City Council, Parker reiterated that she denies Vose's allegations but wrote, "The city has determined that settlement in this amount ($295,000) and without any admission of liability or wrongdoing is consistent with the city's position that it did not discriminate against Mr. Vose in any way and is in the best interest of the city."

Vose began working for the Oakland City Attorney's Office in 1990, became a deputy city attorney in 1999 and twice served as the general counsel for the Oakland Police Department, according to his suit.

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