Ex-Atlanta Employee Files Whistleblower Suit Against City

ATLANTA (CN) – A former Atlanta city employee claims in court that she was fired in retaliation for her objections to granting a permit to the annual Dragon Con event without adequate EMS monitors.

Dragon Con, founded in 1987, is an annual “multigenre convention” held in Atlanta over Labor Day weekend. Each year, it draws tens of thousands of fans of science fiction, fantasy, and comic books.

In a complaint filed in Fulton County Superior Court on Wednesday, plaintiff Joy Tribble, the former special events manager for the Atlanta Fire Rescue Department, says that in 2016, she was asked to review a permit for Dragon Con’s annual convention-related parade.

She says she noted the request said only 3,000 participants were expected, but knew the event typically drew more than 50,000.

She says she then reviewed media reports and other sources and concluded more than 85,000 were expected.

The numbers were critically important, Tribble says, because outdoor events with more than 50,000 attendees require a Class A permit, while those with only 3,000 attendees require only a Class D. permit.

“Class A permits have greater safety requirements including more ambulances, advanced life support units, bike teams, foot patrols, first aid stations, water stations, sanitation plans, and security than Class D permits because a greater number of persons are in attendance,” the complaint says.

Tribble, who is represented by Andrew Coffman of the Atlanta-based firm Parks, Chesin & Walbert P.C., says she conferred with her supervisors and then rejected the permit request, telling the Dragon Con organizers to submit “an updated … letter reflecting the increases in basic EMS support required for the event.”

The next day, the organizers sent the letter, reflecting the increases in basic EMS support required for the event.

But in early August, when Tribble says she followed up with a Dragon Con organizer about EMS requirements, the organizer “became very hostile and objected to paying for monitors at the event, claiming that the City of Atlanta makes all the profit from the event, not Dragon Con.”

Tribble says refused to waive the requirement and sent organizers information about monitors and the estimated cost on Aug. 8, 2016.

She goes on to say she then

talked about the monitor requirement with Andre Stalling, special events manager from Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed’s Office of Special Events on Aug. 11, and that Stalling told her that Reed’s chief of staff “would not approve any additional requirements outside of the signed permit, meaning that the additional EMS monitors would not be a part of the approval process.”

Tribble says voiced her objection to Fire Chief Joel Baker, who she said agreed with her and told her he would meet with Candace Byrd, Reed’s chief of staff, regarding the issue.

According to the complaint, Tribble was fired without notice on Aug. 15, 2016, and the city refused to give her a reason for her termination.

Tribble claims her firing violates Georgia’s Whistleblower Act, which states that it is unlawful for public employers to retaliate against employees “for disclosing a violation of or noncompliance  with a law, rule or regulation to either a supervisor or a governmental agency” or “for objecting to, or refusing to participate in, any activity, policy or practice of the public employer that the public employee has reasonable cause to believe is in violation of or noncompliance with a law, rule or regulation.”

Tribble seeks to be reinstated to her job with back pay and benefits or for the city to compensate her with at least three years of front pay.

The mayor’s office could not be immediately reached for comment.

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