Fired Equal Employment Opportunity officer J.G. Long will have an opportunity to present his concerns about undue influence on investigations and conflicts of interest to the city commission, Augusta officials said Thursday.
Long, who served as investigator and adjudicator of internal discrimination and harassment claims since December, was fired Tuesday by Compliance Director Kellie Irving, a day after he requested an audience with the commission.
Mayor Pro Tem Mary Davis said Long can appear as a citizen before the city Administrative Services committee at its next meeting May 30, though he can’t address the commission in a closed legal session.
Long’s written request for a meeting included serious allegations of undue influence on his decisions by outside parties, a lack of independence and confidentiality in his investigations, conflicts of interest and other concerns, although it named no names, according to the May 15 letter addressed to Commissioner Marion Williams obtained by The Augusta Chronicle.
“We can’t hold a legal meeting with a person who is not an employee,” while any member of the public can sign up to address the commission, Davis said.
Appearing at a District 3 “Mayor’s Office Hours” with Davis, Mayor Hardie Davis, no relation, said Long’s letter had “no” connection to his sudden termination. The mayor said he had not received the letter and “had no involvement prior to” Irving’s decision, but learned afterward she had a “very strong basis” to fire Long.
Long, who has an EEO consulting and mediation business, could not be reached for comment.
Other commissioners questioned why Irving had terminated the city’s EEO officer with little or no warning to them. The government’s Consolidation Act requires the city have a direct report handling civil rights issues.
“It just doesn’t make sense,” Williams said. “I thought everything was going good.”
Williams said he’d been told Long’s investigations may have unearthed wrongdoing by the city human resources or other departments, but had no concrete information about the claims.
“It’s my understanding there’s been investigations where HR has done wrong, where (another) has done wrong,” he said.
Much could happen by the time the committee meets May 30, he said. “It’s going to have changed up 40 times by then,” Williams said.
The commission fired its last EEO officer, Jacqueline Humphrey, two years ago and had since employed a consultant, Carmen Alexander, who operates independently. At the time of Humphrey’s termination, former Commissioner Bill Lockett said some of his colleagues felt she was more concerned about employee rights than the government’s well-being.
Reach Susan McCord at (706) 823-3215 or firstname.lastname@example.org.