(CN) – The 11th Circuit refused to dismiss a reverse-discrimination lawsuit against the first black CEO of DeKalb County, Ga., who is accused of replacing white workers with blacks to better represent what he saw as the “new DeKalb County.”
White parks and recreation workers claimed in their 2004 federal lawsuit that Vernon Jones, the county’s first black and youngest CEO, wanted to bring a “darker administration” to the county and launched a campaign of harassment to oust them.
The defendants sought to have the case dismissed, but the Atlanta-based appeals allowed it to continue. The 11th Circuit agreed with the lower court that “there was shocking evidence of an overt and unabashed pattern of discrimination” as part of the county’s “wholesale plan to replace its white managers with African Americans.”
The court also found that Jones “was the architect of a racially discriminatory scheme” who “spawned the claims the plaintiffs have brought against him.”
The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Michael Bryant, John Drake and Becky Kelley, three white former managers in the parks department, and Herbert Lowe, a black former manager in the department.
Jones allegedly told Lowe to replace the white workers. He was fired for refusing. The three others eventually lost their jobs.
The court upheld denial of qualified immunity, but reversed the denial of legislative immunity to one of Jones’ subordinates, Richard Stogner, who drafted the 2004 budget that nixed Lowe’s position.