Ex-Fulton employee gets $1.2M in discrimination suit



A man who filed a suit against Fulton County officials, saying he was snubbed for a job because he is white and male, has been awarded $1.2 million.

Earlier this week, federal Magistrate Judge Alan Baverman added nearly $900,000 in future lost wages, additional back wages, lost pension benefits and interest to a $300,000 judgment former Human Services Deputy Director Doug Carl received last year. Carl sued the county and former County Manager Tom Andrews after he lost a director’s job to a black woman in 2007. A federal jury found in his favor.

The cost to taxpayers could go higher still, as Baverman has yet to decide how much Carl should be awarded in attorneys’ fees. His legal team seeks $500,000.

During the trial, Andrews admitted calling employees “black marbles” and “white marbles” in weighing personnel decisions. The jury also heard second-hand testimony that County Commissioner Emma Darnell played a role, allegedly telling a deputy county manager that she had “too many white boys” in Human Services and the new director should be black and female.

Interim County Manager David Ware, formerly the county attorney, has said the jury shouldn’t have heard the testimony about Darnell because the former deputy county manager, Keith Chadwell, denied hearing her say that. One of Carl’s attorneys, J. Matthew Maguire, said it had a big impact on the jury.

“We talked to the jurors after the trial,” he said, “and one of the jurors said half-jokingly that they ought to rename the Darnell Center the Doug Carl Center.”

The Harriett G. Darnell Senior Multipurpose Facility in west Atlanta is named for the commissioner’s mother. Darnell said Wednesday that she had no comment about the case and referred questions to Ware.

Both Ware and Interim County Attorney Larry Ramsey declined to comment, and Andrews has not returned messages.

The case has echoes of another high-profile discrimination case from a decade ago. In 2003, the County Commission agreed to pay $18 million to settle a lawsuit alleging that seven white librarians were demoted and moved to outlying branches and that one black employee was punished for speaking up against the transfers.

Public comments made by library board members damaged the county’s case, particularly a recorded public remark by then-library board Chairman William McClure that “there are too many old white women” in management positions at the downtown library and that the board needed “to get rid of them.”

The Carl case shows Fulton may not have learned its lesson since then, said Jim Honkisz, interim president of the Fulton County Taxpayers Foundation.

“It’s the taxpayers that ultimately bear the brunt of it,” Honkisz said. “I wonder if there ought to be some sort of inquiry into sensitivity training, particularly for managers and middle managers.”

Carl, 50, told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that he knew he was being discriminated against when Andrews sat him down, told him he didn’t get the job and said it had nothing to do with race and gender. Carl said he hadn’t brought those topics up.

“That certainly planted the seed of suspicion at that point,” Carl said. “I’m hoping, with the judge’s ruling, that this will end finally.”


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