A Compton single mother of three boys who was the focus of media attention when she graduated from UCLA in 2014 with three degrees has settled her lawsuit against her hometown, in which alleged she was owed money for work done on behalf of the city and that she was defamed by the mayor.
Deanna Jordan’s lawsuit, filed last Dec. 15, named as defendants the city of Compton, Mayor Aja Brown, Brown’s husband, Van Brown, and the Urban Vision Community Development Corp.
Jordan sought unspecified compensatory and punitive damages on allegations of wrongful termination, fraud, defamation, intentional infliction of emotional distress and invasion of privacy. The notice of settlement filed by Jordan’s attorneys Oct. 14 with Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Ruth Kwan does not divulge the terms.
Attorneys for the city and Brown stated in their court papers that their clients acted in good faith and were immune from liability.
Jordan, then 28, graduated from UCLA in June 2014 with two bachelor’s degrees and a master’s degree in African-American studies. Her story was covered in the media as an example of a young woman beating the odds and accomplishing goals some said she could never attain.
According to the complaint, Jordan met Brown in October 2013 and the two agreed she would serve an externship for the mayor beginning that month through September 2014. The arrangement called for UCLA to pay Jordan $10 an hour for the first 10 hours of each week she worked and for the city to compensate her for any additional time, the suit stated.
Jordan said she was given an office, a direct phone line, a computer, a Compton email address, business cards and remote access to the city’s desktop computers so she could work from home.
Brown assigned Jordan to supervise various projects, including an education subcommittee, a police task force and programs involving anti-sex trafficking and anti-bullying, according to her court papers.
Jordan worked 10 hours a week in November 2013, but from the following month until March 2014, her weekly hours expanded to 20 to 30, the suit states. Both Brown and her chief of staff told Jordan they were giving her more work because they were pleased with her efforts, according to the suit.
“Compton and Mayor Brown did not compensate plaintiff for her work past 10 hours per week that she received from UCLA as Mayor Brown had promised,” the suit alleged.
Jordan claimed she continued to work for the city and the mayor while relying on Brown’s promise of compensation. Her weekly work hours increased to 40 in April 2014, and that month, Brown assigned her to do outreach for the Compton Empowered Leadership Experience Program, the suit stated.
The mayor continued to assign duties to Jordan in the ensuing months, according to her complaint.
In retaliation for Jordan’s complaints, Brown and her husband allegedly told Compton officials and community members that the plaintiff was a “lunatic” out to extort money from the city, that she was a “terrible employee” and that her “work ethics are poor,” the suit alleges.