In a rebuke to the administration of former DeKalb County CEO Vernon Jones, a federal appeals court has decided against the county's request to dismiss a long-running, reverse-discrimination lawsuit.
The suit was filed in U.S. District Court in 2004 by current and former employees of the county Parks and Recreation Department, who alleged that the county had a plan to harass and discriminate against white managers.
Lawyers for DeKalb had asked the appellate court to throw out the lawsuit. But in a ruling issued today, a three-judge panel sent the case back to the trial court.
The order by the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals says that in 2001 DeKalb "embarked on a wholesale plan to replace its white managers with African Americans." It also says there is "shocking" evidence of "an overt and unabashed pattern of discrimination."
The judges did make one decision that was favorable to the county, dismissing former DeKalb Executive Assistant Richard Stogner from the suit. However, Jones and other officials remain as defendants.
Chris Anulewicz, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, said the overall decision is a good one for his clients because it means a trial could start in about eight months.
"We've been waiting for two years for this," he said.
Jones' successor as CEO, Burrell Ellis, had no immediate comment because he had not yet read the lawsuit, county spokeswoman Shelia Edwards said.