Taking the Civil Rights Pulse of the Atlanta Metro Area


Two civil rights suits in the Atlanta metro area have received attention in the news recently.  Both concern claims of employment discrimination that allegedly took place in public or governmental institutions .

In the more notable case, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals rejected an effort by Dekalb county to dismiss a lawsuit by Parks Department employees (current and former) alleging reverse racial discrimination.  The court found that after Vernon Jones became the CEO of Dekalb count — the youngest and first African-American to accomplish such a feat — he made it a point to remake the government of  Dekalb so that it would “look like Dekalb county” which apparently called for the creation of a “darker administration.”  Unfortunately, Jones would encounter some resistance to this plan in three white managers at the Parks Department.  If the facts as recounted by the court are to believed, the actions of Jones are blatantly discriminatory.  Here is a snippet from the opinion:

The plaintiffs presented evidence that Jones, upon taking office, boldly implemented a plan to create a “darker administration” by refusing to hire whites for open managerial positions, demoting or transferring already employed white managers, and filling the positions they had been occupying with blacks.  Jones, employing the assistance of Drew, Williams, and Stogner, targeted Kelley, Bryant, and Drake and endeavored to force them out of their positions by adversely altering their job responsibilities and otherwise undermining their authority.  The record contains several examples of the tactics Jones and his subordinates used.

On several occasions, Jones angrily confronted Kelley.  On one occasion, he approached her in a physically threatening manner.  Following this incident, Kelley was forbidden to speak to the press or to communicate with the Board of Commissioners, even though this was part of her job as Director of the Parks Department.  Jones stripped Kelley of her hiring authority, requiring her to interview candidates for vacancies with Williams.  After she and Williams conducted interviews for the position of Deputy Director of Recreation Services, Williams ignored her suggestion that a white male should be chosen because Jones wanted an African American in the position, irrespective of qualifications.  After complaining about the manner in which she was being treated, Stogner told Kelley that she failed to comprehend the overall political environment and could not understand or relate to “powerful black men.”  Signaling Jones’s intention to replace her with a black manager, Stogner told Kelley that Jones wanted “to showcase black parks and black employees.”  Eventually, Kelley was demoted (and subsequently replaced by Drew) and reassigned to the county’s Greenspace program, where her responsibilities were further curtailed.  She ultimately resigned.

The AJC has the story on the case here, Atlanta Unfiltered, here.

In another case, a professor from Kennesaw State University sued the school for gender discrimination.  The professor is female, the co-worker who she claims was unjustifiably promoted in place of her, is male.  Here is part of what the AJC has to say about it:

A female Kennesaw State University professor claims a male subordinate co-worker received a higher salary.

And when she complained about it, she was denied the opportunity for a promotion, according to a civil rights lawsuit filed against the university, KSU President Daniel Papp, and the state Board of Regents.

Mary Murray was hired as an assistant professor in the university’s department of computer science and information systems in August 2000. Five years later, she was promoted to the rank of associate professor, according to the suit, filed in the U.S. District Court in Atlanta.

In April 2007, Murray found out she was being paid less than Solomon Negash, according to the suit. In July 2007, she filed a gender discrimination charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

The following May, Murray complained to KSU about the pay discrepancy. In June 2008, Negash was promoted to associate professor, and was apparently going to continue to receive more compensation than Murray, according to the suit.

When she applied for promotion to professor, KSU “flatly refused to even consider it despite the fact that she was eligible for promotion … in retaliation for her opposition to unlawful gender discrimination,” the suit states.

The full story is here.

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