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Former Stockbridge clerk files EEOC complaint

 

By Monroe Roark
Times Correspondent
 

  More developments have been revealed in the ongoing dispute between Stockbridge and its most recent former city clerk.

  Rhonda Blackmon filed a charge of discrimination with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission March 27. In a letter to the city that same day, attorney Matthew Billips stated that the action was taken after no one from the city responded to his Feb. 20 letter charging that Blackmon’s termination was void and that the appointment of a less-qualified employee to replace her was racially motivated.

  “Please note that we intend to file a lawsuit at the earliest opportunity failing amicable resolution of Ms. Blackmon’s claims,” Billips wrote in the latest correspondence. “As her claims are federal in nature, we have no intention of sending you any further notice prior to instituting litigation, if you continue to ignore this matter.”

  Blackmon was relieved of her duties as city clerk during the Jan. 3 City Council meeting, the first for new mayor Tim Thompson and new council members Anthony Ford and Lakeisha Gantt. After a vote by Ford, Gantt and Alphonso Thomas to appoint Stephanie Tigner interim city clerk, Blackmon was escorted from the council chambers by security before the council resumed the meeting.

  In her EEOC complaint, Blackmon alleges that this was done by “the newly elected, majority African-American City Council, in a meeting held in violation of Georgia law.” She also states that “Ms. Tigner, who is African-American, had been terminated two days previously for incompetence and for dishonesty.”

  Tigner “did not disclose the fact of her criminal record when applying for the position; was caught practicing forging the signatures of officials who had check signing authority and had no explanation for her conduct; filed a worker’s compensation claim and during her absence on worker’s compensation failed to divulge an automobile accident, which she was required to report; and did not tell the City about payments she had received improperly from the City and GMA relating to her worker’s compensation claim,” according to Blackmon’s complaint.

  Blackmon states that she has served as a city clerk for five years in Doraville and Stockbridge, while Tigner is less qualified and does not have the requisite certification for the position. One Stockbridge official told the Times that Blackmon had met most of her certification requirements before coming to Stockbridge and was “fully certified” within a few months of taking the position.

  Thomas, who is mayor pro tem, “has stated in the presence of witnesses that he and the newly elected African-American City Council members intend to protect the employment of African-American employees at the expense of non-African Americans,” Blackmon stated in her complaint.

  In response to an e-mail request for comment, Thompson wrote, “As this issue is associated with a pending litigation matter, the city will not comment at this time.”

  In addition to Blackmon’s action, her law firm initiated a separate suit against the city.

  An online search confirmed that Benjamin and Billips LLC filed the civil action March 26 in Henry County Superior Court but the reason for the suit was not listed. A source informed the Times that the suit is because the city “failed and refused to provide access to public records for an unreasonable time period and without proper basis,” but that has not been confirmed. A call to the law firm’s offices was not returned by press time.

 

 

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