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St. Vincent de Paul accused of racial discrimination after firing African-American employee

in Local Courts/Top Headlines by
Michael Raposa of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul South Pinellas

A well-known Tampa Bay-area charity and thrift store operator is facing accusations of racial discrimination after firing an African-American veteran program officer.

The Society of St. Vincent de Paul is a Catholic charity founded in France in the 1830s.

St. Vincent’s South Pinellas chapter operates a thrift store at 384 15th St. N, S in St. Petersburg, which is used for support services in Tampa for veteran families. Michael Raposa serves as St. Vincent’s executive director. Edi Erb, a former executive director of the Tampa Hillsborough Homeless Initiative, serves as director of supportive services for veteran families.

St. Vincent de Paul hired Bryan Sullivan in 2015 as a program officer for supportive services in 3010 N. Boulevard in Tampa to help homeless veterans. Erb was his supervisor.

Less than three months later, executive director Raposa fired Sullivan.

According to a suit filed April 3 in Pinellas County Circuit Court, Sullivan cites two reasons for his dismissal: he is an African-American at a charity Sullivan says prefers a white staff, and, as a U.S. Army combat veteran, was considered “too military.”

The termination came on the same day Sullivan told Raposa and others he had filed a discrimination claim with the federal government.

Court records suggest Sullivan could be 47-year-old Valrico resident Bryan Oneil Sullivan, who had been arrested in 2010 for sexual battery, for violating probation in 2011, and faced a complaint in 2005 for dating violence by Amanda Voigt. The dating violence petition was denied.

Also named in the suit is Modern Business, a St. Petersburg firm providing outsourced human resources. Sullivan’s complaint lists the company and St. Vincent de Paul as co-employers.

Notably, Sullivan filed his discrimination complaint not with the EEOC but with the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs, which provides St. Vincent de Paul federal funds to assistant veterans.

In the past, St. Vincent de Paul has faced other legal actions, including a racial discrimination suit. A chef claimed in 2014 he was fired for being African-American, as well as a store manager suing for overtime, and a cashier accused a supervisor of sexual harassment.

 

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