Charge of Discrimination filed against Dougherty Co. Commission by former county administrator
ALBANY, Ga. (WALB) - Attorneys for former Dougherty County Administrator Mike McCoy have formally filed a Charge of Discrimination and Retaliation against the Dougherty County Board of Commissioners.
The charge specifically names Dougherty County Commission Chairman Lorenzo Heard and the fact that McCoy was terminated after hiring a white assistant county manager as the reason for the discrimination filing.
The discrimination charge form quotes Heard using racially derogatory language referring to McCoy. Videos of Heard talking about McCoy on radio station WBZN are still up on the station’s Facebook page, in which he uses similar language about McCoy.
“We sometimes run into one Black man who is more loyal to one white man than he is to the whole board,” Heard said.
Heard became commission Chairman in January 2023. In May 2023, he motioned to have McCoy terminated.
The commission held three separate votes, each time, Heard cited a different reason for his firing.
“We believe that one of the reasons Mr. McCoy was terminated is because he hired a white person to be the assistant county administrator,” Maurice King, McCoy’s attorney, said. “We believe under federal law and under Georgia law that it is illegal to retaliate against someone for hiring a white person.”
In July 2023, WALB interviewed former Dougherty County Commission Chairman Chris Cohilas, who expressed concerns about the board’s actions.
“When decisions are being made in this way and rules are being broken so openly so blatantly; when you’re having to spend this much money on a team of lawyers to unwind the decision to fire a county administrator after violating the Open Meetings Act, and you’re having to be called down upon by the attorney general’s office: that is bad,” Cochilas said.
Former Public Information Officer for Dougherty County Wendy Howell resigned shortly after McCoy was terminated. She believes the actions of the board point to corruption.
“I believe Chairman Heard said in an interview with WALB that ‘We’re starting at the top working our way down, as far as you know, putting who we want in place.’ I mean, he said it on camera. How can you do that when there’s codes against that? I know that’s influence intimidation. That’s the corruption,” Howell said.
The discrimination charge included a Statement of Personal Harm from McCoy, who writes in part, “…I have been discriminated against and retaliated against in the terms and conditions, because I have been treated differently from white males.”
When WALB asked McCoy’s counsel what was next, we were told that the commission would have a chance to respond to the charge of discrimination before the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission would start its investigation.
Attorney and General Counsel for the Dougherty County Board of Commissioners Alex Shalishali issued this statement to WALB on Thursday in response to McCoy’s filing:
“I have neither received nor had the opportunity to review the below-referenced charge. While any allegations of discrimination are denied, it would be inappropriate for me to comment further at this time given the sensitive personnel matter and pending litigation at issue.”
This is the second time McCoy has filed a Charge of Discrimination against the commission board. The first was back in 2018.
Our previous coverage:
- Former Dougherty Co. administrator files legal petition against Dougherty Co. Commission
- Firing of Dougherty County administrator now final
- Ga. AG’s office reprimands Dougherty Co. Commission for ‘failure to comply’ with Open Meetings Act in county admin. firing
- Former Dougherty Co. administrator intends to sue for wrongful termination
- Dougherty Co. Board of Commissioners votes to uphold firing of county administrator
- Vote to fire Dougherty Co. administrator under investigation by Ga. Attorney General
- Former Dougherty Co. administrator requests public hearing after termination votes
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