By Monroe Roark
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
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.