A former employee of the Richmond County Probate Court filed suit in U.S. District Court alleging her 2014 firing was racially motivated.
Angela Rice filed the discrimination lawsuit against Probate Court Judge Harry B. James III alleging racial discrimination, harassment, hostile work environment, and retaliation. According to city employee records, Rice worked in the probate court office from October 1998 until she was fired March 17, 2014.
James was elected judge and took over the position full time on Jan. 1, 2013. Rice, who is white, alleges James, who is black, treated white and black employees differently. Rice, who had worked her way up from an assistant to director, was replaced by a black employee by James, according to the lawsuit. She alleges she was more qualified and experienced for that position and for the deputy chief clerk’s job which James filled with another black employee. Both of those employees received raises while Rice contends she was demoted and her salary was cut by $15,000.
On Nov. 13, 2013, Rice filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. According to the lawsuit, Rice states that she was harassed and subjected to a hostile work environment as soon as James learned of the complaint. On Jan. 14, 2014, Rice contends she received her first letter of reprimand in 16 years. During a later meeting with James, Rice contends James told her she should quit because no one liked her, and that he read her EEOC complaint to other employees at a March 3, 2014 staff meeting.
Just before quitting time on March 17, 2014, James fired Rice and, according to the lawsuit, had a marshal escort her off the courthouse grounds.
A lawsuit represents just one side of a dispute. James has not yet responded to the lawsuit filed on April 6.
Reach Sandy Hodson at firstname.lastname@example.org or (706) 823-3226