Jury Awards County Staffer $300,000 for Race, Sex Discrimination

Greg Land, Daily Report, August 31, 2012

A federal jury said Fulton County should pay $300,000 to a white man who claimed he suffered race and gender discrimination when Fulton authorities chose an African-American woman over him for a job.

Parks Chesin & Walbert partner Andrew Coffman, who represented plaintiff Douglas Carl, said the $300,000 award may represent only a portion of the total damages. Coffman said the court must still determine whether Carl, 50, is entitled to compensation for future wages he would have earned, additional pension benefits and attorney fees.

A key issue in the case was the role of Fulton County Commissioner Emma Darnell.

Coffman said his client, the interim director of the Department of Human Services, had been deemed the best candidate for the permanent job until Darnell insisted that the post be given to an African-American woman.

“There’s no question that she was driving it,” said Coffman. He noted that the former head of the department testified that another county official, Deputy Manager Keith Chadwell, had said Darnell complained that there were “too many white boys” in the department.

In response to requests for comment from both Darnell and the county, Fulton County Attorney David Ware issued a statement denying that Carl had been a victim of discrimination and that Darnell had been involved.

“The undisputed facts in the record established that Mr. Carl was not denied the promotion due to his race or gender but instead due to the fact that the candidate who was hired was superior in qualifications and Mr. Carl completely blew the [job] interview,” said Ware’s statement. “The only reason Mr. Carl alleges that race played a part in the selection process is because the person chosen happened to be an African American female. Mr. Carl was incredulous that a Black woman would be chosen over him and thus decided to accuse the County of a race-based decision.”

As to Darnell’s alleged involvement, said Ware, “Not a single witness testified to hearing Commissioner Darnell make the statements falsely attributed to her. Commissioner Darnell in fact denied making such statements.”

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