Former Snellville city clerk Phyllis Moreland-Richardson has filed a new federal lawsuit against the city, claiming she was discriminated against and prevented from doing her job because she is black.
Another suit that Moreland-Richardson filed in 2015 to challenge her contentious firing was dismissed earlier this year.
Then-Mayor Kelly Kautz appointed Moreland-Richardson to be Snellville’s city clerk on Jan. 10, 2014. But three days later, the City Council — which feuded with Kautz almost non-stop during her tenure — opted instead to reappoint Melisa Arnold, a white woman, as clerk.
Kautz and the City Council were already in another years-long legal battle over the mayor’s appointment and firing powers, but the city clerk spat started another. Kautz ultimately won that case and Moreland-Richardson was re-hired — but, in Nov. 2015, new Mayor Tom Witts, a former city councilman, fired her immediately after being sworn in.
The federal lawsuit that Moreland-Richardson had filed less than a month before her firing claimed council members and Snellville’s city manager prevented her from accessing the tools she needed to do her job. Moreland-Richardson suggested at the time her mistreatment was race-related, but the original suit, which was dismissed in January, made no mention of those claims.
Moreland-Richardson’s new federal suit, filed last week in United States District Court in Atlanta, does not shy away from charges of racism. It also suggests she was fired because of a previous filing with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
“Plaintiff alleges that she was treated differently from other non-African American employees for the City of Snellville and that the City of Snellville intentionally created a hostile and abusive work environment towards Plaintiff on account of her race,” the lawsuit says.
It asks for a jury trial and for unspecified damages.
Snellville spokesman Brian Arrington said Friday afternoon that the city was “not offering comment” on the new lawsuit.
Moreland-Richardson, a Loganville resident, has re-entered the spotlight outside of Snellville in recent months, leading a group called United Together in protests against Gwinnett County Commissioner Tommy Hunter.
Hunter called U.S. Rep. John Lewis a “racist pig” on Facebook and has since been publicly reprimanded.
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