A racial discrimination lawsuit against the city of Rockville has enough merit to proceed, a federal judge has ruled.
U.S. District Court Judge Paul W. Grimm denied the city’s motion to dismiss a suit filed by Courtney Morgan, former division chief of Rockville’s inspection services.
Morgan claims he was paid less money than his white subordinates and that he was given an unfair evaluation by his supervisor, Susan Swift, director of community planning and development services, and was subsequently fired based on the evaluation, according to records filed in court.
Morgan is seeking lost wages and possible punitive damages, according to his attorney, Terry Morris.
“If you're being discriminated against, no one in this day and age is going to right out just discriminate against you,” Morris said. “They're going to do something with regards to pay, they're going to do something in regards to your promotion. They're going to do things that are discreet, that really the plaintiff really doesn't have access to, but he knows. He knows that there's something wrong. He knows that there's something fishy.”
City officials would not comment on specifics of this case. Marylou Berg, a spokeswoman for the City of Rockville, said it’s against the city’s policy to comment on pending litigation.
Morgan was with the city from July 2011 to March 2012. His salary was $95,000, according to city records.
Morgan’s lawsuit is among three discrimination suits filed against the city in less than a year.
Charles Baker, Rockville’s former chief of inspection services, filed a suit claiming that "intolerable work conditions” forced him into early medical retirement. Montgomery County Circuit Court records show that case was dismissed “with prejudice” on Oct. 28, 2013.
Former public works employee Donald Dorsey filed a suit claiming that his white supervisors retaliated against him after he complained about a supervisor displaying the Confederate flag on his phone, clothes and work vehicle's dashboard.
Dorsey also claims his work truck was vandalized because he complained about racism.
As a development of Dorsey’s lawsuit, a Montgomery County Circuit Court judge on Dec. 10, 2013 ordered the city to release parts of a city-commissioned personnel report to Dorsey and his attorney.
The city appealed the ruling.
The report in question was generated by Saul Ewing LLP, a firm the city paid $190,000 to investigate employees’ claims of harassment and discrimination by supervisors.
While some of the findings of the report were disclosed, the report itself has never been made public.
Morgan’s case is still in the early stages of litigation. On Jan. 30, attorneys are expected to discuss with the judge how they will handle the exchange of records and other evidence, a process expected to last two months.
Morris told The Montgomery County Sentinel that he would also request access to the Saul Ewing report. According to Morris, Morgan was never interviewed for the Saul Ewing report, which Morris described in court records as a “sham.”
“I think if the city wants to get better and they wanted to fix any problems they're having with a discriminatory nature or environment, they'd want to go to the horse's mouth," Morris told Patch in a phone interview. "They'd want to figure out exactly what happened so that they could cure it and fix it.”
Saul Ewing was contracted to conduct interviews with current employees, according to Berg.
The Saul Ewing report was commissioned May 4, 2012, according to records obtained by Patch.