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A Rockville self-storage company has been sued for $1 million by an African-American former employee who claims it violated her civil rights by underpaying her, firing her and replacing her with a less-qualified white man.

Jennifer Dandridge of Waldorf managed two facilities in Waldorf for Self Storage Services Inc. with a combined 900 tenants for four years, according to her lawsuit, filed last week in U.S. District Court in Greenbelt. She worked for the company for 16 years.

Despite never receiving unsatisfactory performance reports — she won a company award for facility of the year — Dandridge was fired July 16, she claims.

At the time, she was the company’s only black manager — all of the others had been fired and replaced with people who aren’t black, according to her lawsuit.

Self Storage Service’s website does not list a phone number for its corporate headquarters in Rockville. The manager of the Waldorf facilities, Ron Kitzmiller, on July 29 declined to provide a phone number for the headquarters and said the company would have no comment on the lawsuit.

Court documents do not list an attorney for the company.

Dandridge alleges that she also was ordered to train her replacement for her job before she was fired.

Six days after she was fired, her replacement knocked on her home’s door, asking for help with a workplace problem; Dandridge told him to contact the corporate office for help, the lawsuit states.

Furthermore, she claims she was paid less than other managers who weren’t black and who managed only one facility, and the company failed to pay its portion of her medical insurance premiums from February through July.

Dandridge also is seeking back pay and money to cover her legal fees. She is represented by Jimmy A. Bell of Upper Marlboro.

The company has 20 storage facilities, with eight in Maryland and others in Virginia, Washington, D.C., and Florida, according to its website.

rrand@gazette.net