Posted: Tuesday, September 3rd 2013 at 10:20pm
Demorest issues statement regarding racial discrimination lawsuit
By Rob Moore Editor
DEMOREST - The City of Demorest on Tuesday released a statement regarding a racial discrimination lawsuit filed against it by one of its police officers.
The statement, by Sammy Smith of Rainmaker & Associates and authorized by City Manager Juanita Crumley, is in response to the lawsuit filed by Johnny L. Griffin against Greg Ellingson, individually and in his official capacity as chief of police.
Griffin's 12-page civil action was filed Aug. 22 in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, Gainesville Division.
"The City of Demorest received notice of a lawsuit that was filed against it and the Chief of Police, Greg Ellingson, on Aug. 16 by Demorest police officer Johnny Griffin," according to the city's statement. "In the lawsuit, Mr. Griffin alleges that he was discriminated against based on his race with respect to certain promotions and disciplinary actions. Chief Ellingson and the city deny Mr. Griffin's allegations."
Griffin, the only African-American employee of Demorest Police Department, filed a charge with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on July 5, 2012, alleging race-based discriminatory treatment in his employment.
That filing by Griffin was within 180 days of the adverse employment practice, the lawsuit states. Griffin received the right-to-sue letter around Aug. 19, 2013.
Griffin began work with the department in 2001 as a patrolman, and was promoted up through the ranks to lieutenant in 2011.
"On or around Aug. 19, 2011, Defendant Ellingson promoted a lesser qualified, white individual to the position of captain instead of plaintiff, who was fully qualified," the lawsuit states. "Plaintiff was also transferred to the night shift and his unit number was given to the newly-promoted captain who would be his immediate supervisor.
"On Aug. 30, 2011, during a city workshop, [Griffin] was able to voice his racial discriminatory treatment, inclusive of his involuntary transfer to night shift, to two city council members. The two members were able to get [Griffin] reinstated to the day shift," the lawsuit states.
According to the lawsuit, Demorest City Attorney Dana Maine told Griffin on Sept. 19, 2011, that the city was conducting an internal investigation into his ongoing allegations of racial discrimination. Griffin's formal Open Records Act request, made in February 2012 for the investigation report, was denied citing attorney-client privilege.
Griffin is represented in the lawsuit by Ethel L. Munson of the Law Offices of Ethel L. Munson of Atlanta.
The lawsuit seeks:
* A declaratory judgment that the acts of discrimination stated in the lawsuit violated the Fourteenth Amendment, the Civil Rights Act of 1867, and the Civil Rights Act of 1871;
* A permanent injunction prohibiting further acts of discrimination or retaliation against Griffin; along with his promotion to captain, back pay and lost employee's benefits and pre-judgment interest;
* Judgment against both defendants for special and general damages, including compensatory damages to be determined at trial;
* Punitive damages against Ellingson only;
* Attorney's fees and costs of litigation;
* Trial by jury; and
* Other relief as deemed by the court.
"The city is reviewing the lawsuit and will respond accordingly," the city's statement concludes.
At the end of Tuesday night's Demorest City Council meeting, the council entered closed session to discuss pending litigation, personnel issues, and real estate.
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