Eddie Jordan, the first African-American to serve as Orleans Parish district attorney, arrived in federal court Monday to defend himself against accusations that he fired white employees in favor of black staff members who were less qualified.
Judith DeCorte, who worked as a legal assistant in the child support office for 14 years, sued Jordan after he cleaned house days into his first term in January 2003, as Jordan succeeded Harry Connick, the city’s top prosecutor for nearly 30 years.
Forty-three of her colleagues, all Caucasians except for one Hispanic, joined her in a suit that received a preliminary nod from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
In court papers, Jordan has said neither race nor job performance were considered during the purge, which cost 56 people from the Connick era their jobs.
Of the 56 fired, 53 were white, according to the lawsuit. On the day Jordan took office, 57 percent of the administrative and staff employees were Caucasian, as is Connick, and 40 percent were African-American.
Within six months of Jordan assuming office, 68 people were hired for the newly vacant jobs. Of that lot, 92 percent were black and 7 percent were white, the suit says.