by Cole Lauterbach
A former adviser to Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs has again won a racial discrimination case against the state official from their time in the state Legislature.
A jury sided with Talonya Adams, a former legal advisor to the Arizona Senate Democrats, in her claim that she was discriminated against when she was fired in 2015.
Adams, who is Black, was awarded $2 million for being retaliated against and $750,000 for proving she was racially discriminated against. It’s unclear how much Adams will receive, since federal discrimination cases are capped at $300,000 plus legal fees for employers of more than 100 people.
Hobbs, who testified at the trial, was the Senate Minority Leader when Adams was fired. The Senate’s defense insisted Adams wasn’t discriminated against on the basis of race since she never brought up the issue, according to court documents. Instead, the defendents said Hobbs and others “lost trust and confidence” in Adams after she miscommunicated issues to the Republican caucus.
Adams was fired in February 2015 after she took a leave of absence to tend to a family medical issue, a court document said.
A previous legal challenge in 2019 had also sided with Adams on the issue. In each challenge, Adams had represented herself. The court ordered the Senate to return her to her old position after the 2019 verdict but has since moved on.
Transcripts from July 2021 show Adams had learned that she was paid significantly less than a white male counterpart with similar experience and duties. According to transcripts, Hobbs claimed Adams was insubordinate by bringing up the issue with others beyond her supervisors.
Neither Adams nor Hobbs’ office responded to requests for comment Thursday, though the secretary of state’s office is closed for the holiday.
Hobbs is running for Arizona governor as a Democrat.
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Cole Lauterbach is a regional editor for The Center Square covering Arizona, California, Oregon, and Washington. For more than a decade, Cole has produced award-winning content on both radio and television.