Former Troup County employee sues county for race discrimination, FMLA violations

Published 11:41 am Thursday, August 27, 2020

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A former Troup County employee alleges she was discriminated against and unlawfully terminated because of her race, her pregnancy, and FMLA medical leave that she took to care for her newborn child, according to a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court, Northern District of Georgia.

The plaintiff in the lawsuit is Tiffany Hutchinson, who worked for Troup County as mental health court coordinator for six years, according to the lawsuit. Troup County Manager Eric Mosley and Court Services Director Lindsay Fenn — now Lindsay Mobley— were named as defendants.

“This lawsuit is about holding Troup County and its supervisors accountable for the discriminatory treatment of our client based on her race, pregnancy, and need for medical leave,” said Annie Boring, attorney at Buckley Beal, who is representing Hutchinson. “Instead of treating a long-term, successful employee with dignity, Troup County leadership turned a blind eye to racially disparate treatment occurring in its Court Services Division and condoned such conduct. We look forward to exposing this injustice.”

The lawsuit, which only gives the plaintiff’s side of the complaint, says Hutchinson, a Black female, took approved leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act after giving birth to a micro-premature baby at 24 weeks. The lawsuit states that during her leave, Hutchinson was repeatedly contacted for work-related questions and was pressured to attend a work meeting even though her baby was in the NICU.

After eight weeks in recovery, Hutchinson chose to cut her FMLA leave short and to use her remaining four weeks of FMLA leave when her baby was released from the NICU in May 2020, according to the lawsuit. However, the lawsuit says Hutchinson was fired for “bogus” reasons upon her return to work after another employee, who is also Black, was found to have falsified around 70 hours of work time.

The lawsuit alleges that Fenn placed blame for the falsified hours on Hutchinson due to her supervisor role. However, the lawsuit alleged that Fenn is the one who signed off on the time sheets.

After her firing, Hutchinson alleges she was replaced by a less qualified White employee, according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit notes that Hutchinson also plans to assert claims for pregnancy discrimination and retaliation upon receiving a notice of a right to sue from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Hutchinson is seeking back pay and the lost economic benefits from her employment, liquidated damages under FMLA, compensatory damages, punitive damages against Mosley and Fenn, the cost of attorneys’ fees and the costs of litigation and any other relief the court deems just.

County Attorney Mark DeGennaro said Thursday that the county had received the lawsuit but had no other comment due to it being pending litigation.