Four Gordon employees file racial discrimination charges

awomack@macon.comFebruary 4, 2014 

Four city of Gordon employees have filed charges with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, alleging that racial discrimination has created a hostile work environment since Mayor Mary Ann Whipple-Lue took office Jan. 6.

Three of the complainants -- City Clerk Towana Brown, Police Chief Rupert “Mike” Hall and Deputy City Clerk Heather Hawver -- are white. A fourth employee, Public Works Director Melvin Lawrence, is black, as is the mayor.

Attempts to reach Whipple-Lue for comment Tuesday were unsuccessful.

Macon attorneys Charles E. Cox and Brian Jarrard represent the four employees. They confirmed that the EEOC charges have been filed and that the city has received notice. They declined further comment.

The employees allege the following acts of discrimination in their EEOC filings:

• Brown, who started work with the city in 1984, alleges the mayor has threatened to replace her with a black employee without giving a reason for the replacement.

• Hawver, who began work in 2006, alleges the mayor told her during her campaign that she would “replace white employees with African American employees.”

The mayor has said “there are not enough African Americans in the government” and has taken about a dozen applications from black job-seekers, although no jobs are available, Hawver alleges.

• Hall, who started work in 1988, contends that the mayor has asked a black dispatcher about how to improve the police department but hasn’t asked white dispatchers.

She also has arranged for a black officer to work at a city council meeting but no white officers.

• Lawrence maintains that the mayor’s husband has “repeatedly” requested information about the racial makeup of his employees and has said the mayor wants to balance out the number of black and white employees. His department is made up of four white and two black employees.

Last year, the Georgia Secretary of State’s Office launched an investigation after complaints arose that unqualified voters received illegal assistance in casting ballots in Gordon’s Nov. 5 election, which resulted in Whipple-Lue’s becoming mayor.

Results of the investigation have not been released.

To contact writer Amy Leigh Womack, call 744-4398.

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