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FILED 71012018 9:28 PM CLERK OF SUPERIOR COURT DEKALB COUNTY GEORGIA STATE OF GEORGIA SUPERIOR COURT OF DEKALB COUNTY TERESA SLAYTON, Plaintiff, : CIVIL ACTION FILE NO. 18-cv-3085 JURY TRIAL DEMANDED DEKALB COUNTY, GA Defendants. AMENDED COMPLAINT Plaintiff Teresa Slayton (“Plaintiff” or “Ms. Slayton”) files this Amended Complaint against DeKalb County, GA (“Defendant”), showing the Court as follows: JURISDICTION AND VENUE 1. This is a lawsuit for equitable relief and monetary damages based on the retaliatory demotion and termination of Teresa Slayton by DeKalb County in violation of the Georgia Whistleblower Act, 0.C.G.A. § 45-1-4 et seg. (“GWA”) and, thus, subject matter jurisdiction is proper in this Court, 2. Ms, Slayton also brings this action for equitable relief and monetary damages under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seg. (“Title VI") and 42 US.C. § 1981 to correct unlawful employment practices, to vindicate Plaintiff's rights, and to make her whole. Ms. Slayton seeks injunctive and declaratory relief, back pay and lost benefits, front pay or reinstatement to a full-time position commensurate benefits, compensatory damages, punitive damages, and attomey’s fees and costs of litigation. 3. Ms. Slayton is a resident of Rockdale County, Georgia and submits herself to the jurisdiction of this Court. This court has concurrent jurisdiction over Ms. Slayton’s federal law claims. 4, Venue is proper in this Court because the actions alleged in this lawsuit occurred in DeKalb County. THEPARTIES 5. Ms, Slayton was employed by DeKalb County, Georgia as a Senior Procurement Agent in the Procurement and Contracting Department from August 2016 through her retaliatory termination on August 9, 2017. 6. At all times relevant, Ms. Slayton was a “public employee” as defined by the Georgia Whistleblower Act, O.C.G.A. § 45-1-4(a)(3). 7. Defendant DeKalb County, Georgia is a “public employer” as defined by 0.C.G.A. § 45-1-4(a)(4), 8. Defendant may be served with process via personal service upon the DeKalb County Chief Executive Officer, Michael L. Thurmond, at the office of the DeKalb County CEO, ‘Manuel J. Maloof Center, 1300 Commerce Drive, 6th Floor, Decatur, Georgia 30030. EXHAUSTION OF ADMINISTRATIVE REMEDIES 9. ‘Ms. Slayton filed a charge of discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission within 180 days of the occurrence of the acts of which she complains. 10. On May 8, 2018, the EEOC issued a Notice of Right to Sue relating to her charge of discrimination, charge number 410-2017-04119. 11, This civil action is filed in the appropriate federal district court within ninety (90) days of the receipt of Ms. Slayton’s Notice of Right to Sue, FACTUAL ALLEGATIONS 12, Ms. Slayton began employment with DeKalb County as a Senior Procurement Agent in August 2016 then appointed CIP team lead. 13. At that time, Ms. Slayton’s duties included supervisory and team lead responsibilities. 14, When Ms. Slayton began employment, she was supervised by CIP Manager Warrick Sams, 15. Throughout Ms. Slayton’s employment, Talisa Clark was the Interim Chief Procurement Officer then the permanent Chief Procurement Officer for the Procurement and Contracting Department. 16. On November 2016, Ms. Slayton engaged in whistleblowing activity protected by the GWA when she shared with Mr. Sam’s that the Department of Watershed Management had a conflict of interest with a contractor, John Jones, and also raised concerns that a DeKalb County contractor, Tetra Tech, was overbilling the County on change orders. 17, _ Mr. Sams shared Ms. Slayton’s disclosures with Ms. Clark. 18. In January 2017, Ms. Slayton again engaged in protected activity under the GWA ‘when she shared with Mr. Sams and Ms. Clark, in writing, that employees in the Department of ‘Watershed Management were providing inside information to Woolpert, a bidder on a capital improvement project for an estimated $7.7 million dollars contract, in an attempt to rig the bid for a project. 19, In February 2017, Ms. Slayton again engaged in protected activity under the GWA in a face-to-face meeting with Mr. Sams when Ms. Slayton disclosed to Mr. Sams text messages and Ms. Clark contacted her and asked Ms. Slayton to engage in unethical and untruthful conduct. 20. On March 6, 2017, Ms. Clark terminated Mr, Sams. 21. On March 17, 2017, Ms. Clark and Deputy Director Cathryn Horner demoted Ms. Slayton by stripping Ms. Slayton of her supervisory and team lead responsibilities in retaliation for her engaging in protected conduct under the GWA. 22, On March 20, 2017, Ms. Slayton suffered a second adverse employment action for her protected activity when Ms. Clark and Ms. Homer failed and refused to promote her to the Interim CIP Manager position vacated by Mr. Sams despite Ms. Slayton’s exceptional credentials. 23. In late March 2017, Ms. Stayton was subject to coercion by Deputy Director Cathryn Homer, during a closed, door meeting, to engage fictitious acts and untruthful conduct about Mr. Sams character and work product on certain projects, 24, In late March 2017, Ms. Slayton met with an FBI Agent and Mr. Sams to notify them illegal activity in DeKalb County and workplace coercion. 25. Between April 6, 2017 and August 9, 2017, Ms. Slayton met with the FBI and provided the FBI information relating to the following illegal practices by the DeKalb County Departments of Watershed Management and Procurement and Contracting: collusion, bid rigging. bid steering, destruction of department files, fictitious performance rating forms on contractors, unsecure bid files and financial records, poor contract file management and storage, removal of bidder evaluation files from Ms. Slayton’s office, management violations of the Open Records Act, management violations of the O.C.G.A § 36-91-23, CHAPTER 91. PUBLIC WORKS BIDDING, ARTICLE 2., CONTRACTING AND BIDDING REQUIREMENTS, departmental audit reports revealing contractors ovetbilling of invoices, double billing of labor cost, and out-of- scope services being paid by the County with full knowledge of the same, inflated change orders, interference in the bid selection and evaluation phase, wrongful elimination of bidders/vendors in the procurement process, awarding contracts to contractors who should have been deemed non- responsive and/or non-responsible, engineering contracts with unconfirmed reports of unlicensed engineers as Local Small Business Enterprise (LSBE) subcontractors, and pay-to-play activities, and among other things. 26. On April 24, 2017, Ms. Slayton met with Janet Essix from DeKalb County Human Resources to discuss concems regarding her employment with DeKalb County and specifically shared her concerns relating to suspected wrongdoing relating to the contracting process in DeKalb County. 27. On May 2, 2017, Ms. Clark met with Ms. Slayton and two other employees and threatened them regarding their complaints to Human Resources. 28, On May 4, 2017, Ms. Slayton again engaged in protected activity under the GWA. in an email to a County Attorney, and the Department of Watershed project manager, Ms Cassandra Marshall when Ms. Slayton disclosed to the County Attorney and Ms. Marshall that the Interim CIP manager, Ms. Michelle Butler altered the scope of work in an approved solicitation draft by the County Attomey and project manager without their knowledge or input and Ms. Slayton forward the changed draft and handwritten notes by Ms. Butler to both the County Attomey and Ms. Marshall. 29. On May 4, 2017, Ms. Slayton suffered another adverse employment action for her protected activity when Ms. Butler and Ms. Clark threaten her job after Ms. Slayton sent Ms. Butler's internal notes and changes of the approved draft document to the County Attorney. 30. On May 10, 2017, Ms. Slayton reported to Ms. Essix that she believed her job was being threatened. 31. On May 22, 2017, Ms. Slayton filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in which she alleged discrimination on the basis of her sex, retaliation, and that she suspected illegal activity relating to contracting in DeKalb County. 32, In July 2017, Ms. Slayton again engaged in protected activity under the GWA when she shared with the Interim CIP manager, Ms. Michelle Butler, in a face-to-face meeting, that employee(s) in the Department of Watershed Management once again provided inside information to Woolpert, a bidder, on new specifications for rebidding of a project, which Ms. Slayton asked Ms. Butler to notify the Chief Procurement Officer, Ms. Clark. 33. On July 18, 2017, Ms. Slayton amended her charge of discrimination to add claims of discrimination on the basis of her race and national origin after leaming she was being paid less than her Hispanic co-worker. 34. On August 9, 2017, Ms. Slayton was terminated based on the pretextual reason that she allegedly had performance issues. 35. Defendant targeted Ms. Slayton because she uncovered and disclosed wrongdoing involving contracts and her knowledge of this wrongdoing contributed to her demotion, the failure to promote her, and her termination. 36. Defendant received notice of Ms. Slayton’s EEOC Charge of Discrimination on or before August 9, 2017, 37. Defendant terminated Ms. Slayton in retaliation for her protected complaints to the EEOC. COUNTI ions of O.C.G.A, -4 ~ the Georgia Whistleblower Act 38. Based on the facts alleged above, Ms. Slayton asserts a claim under the Georgia Whistleblower Act, O.C.G.A. § 45-1-4. 39. Atall times relevant to this action, Ms. Slayton was a public employee as that term is defined by O.C.G.A. § 45-I-4(a)@3), 40. Atalll times relevant to this action, Defendant DeKalb County, Georgia was Ms. Slayton’s employer and was a “public employer” as defined by O.C.G.A. § 45-1-4(a)(4). 41. While employed with Defendant, Ms. Slayton engaged in protected activity when she disclosed violations of laws, rules, or regulations to her supervisors, Mr. Sams and Ms. Clark, to Ms. Essix, and to the FBI. 42, Defendant DeKalb County took adverse actions against Ms. Slayton when it stripped her of supervisory duties, failed to promote her, and by terminating her employment in retaliation for disclosing violations of laws, rules, and regulations to either a supervisor or a government agency. 43. Defendant additionally, or in the alternative, took an adverse action against Ms. Slayton because she refused to participate in and objected to Defendant's activities, policies, and practices. 44. Ms. Slayton reasonably believed these violations did not comply with a law, rule, or regulation, 45. Defendant DeKalb County violated the Georgia Whistleblower Act by adopting or enforcing policies or practices preventing public employees from disclosing violations of laws, rules, and regulations to either a supervisor or a government agency. 46. Instead of insuring that Defendant DeKalb County complied with the Georgia Whistleblower Act, Defendant actively sought to violate the Act. 47. Defendant DeKalb County’s actions were willful, wanton, and intentionally directed to harm Ms. Slayton. 48. Defendant DeKalb County's actions were reckless and taken in willful disregard of the probable consequences of its actions. 49. Asa result of Defendant DeKalb County's conduct, Ms. Slayton has or will suffer lost wages and benefits, and other remuneration, damage to her professional reputation, and mental and emotional distress. 50. Defendant DeKalb County’s actions and failures to act were the proximate cause of the harm suffered by Ms. Slayton as alleged herein. COUNT I Attorney’s Fees 51. Based on the facts alleged above, Ms. Slayton asserts a claim for attomney’s fees. 52. By its actions as more particularly described above, Defendant DeKalb County has acted in bad faith, has been stubbornly litigious and has put Ms. Slayton to unnecessary trouble and expense. 53. Defendant DeKalb County's willful, deliberate, and bad faith conduct subjects it to an award of attomey’s fees pursuant to O.C.G.A. § 13-611 and O.C.G.A. § 45-1-4(f) COUNT II 54. Ms. Slayton incorporates by reference the preceding Paragraphs as if fully restated herein. 55. Ms, Slayton is an “employee” as defined by Title VII, 42 U.S.C. § 20006e et seq. 56. Defendant is an “employer” as defined by Title VIL, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seg. 57. Ms, Slayton engaged in statutorily protected activity as defined by Title VIL, 42 US.C. § 2000 et seq. when she filed, and later amended, her Charge of Discrimination with the EEOC alleging, among other things, sex, race, and national origin discrimination and retaliation. 58. Defendant had notice of Ms. Slayton’s protected activity. 59. Shortly after Ms. Slayton filed and amended her Charge of Discrimination, Defendant terminated Ms. Slayton’s employment. 60, Defendant terminated Ms. Slayton’s employment because of her protected activity. 61. Defendant’s termination of Ms. Slayton’s employment constitutes intentional retaliation in violation of Title VI, 42 U.S.C. § 20006 et seg. 62, Defendant's actions were willful, deliberate, and intended to cause Ms. Slayton harm and/or were committed with reckless disregard of the harm caused to Ms, Slayton, and were in derogation of her federally protected rights. 63. Asa direct and proximate result of Defendant's intentional retali tion, Ms. Slayton has suffered out of pocket losses and Defendant deprived Ms. Slayton of a job, as well as income in the form of wages, health insurance, prospective retirement benefits, social security, and other benefits due to her, all in an amount to be established at trial. 64, _Inaddition, Defendant’s actions have caused, continue to cause, and will cause Ms. Slayton to suffer damages for emotional distress, mental anguish, loss of enjoyment of life, and other non-pecuniary losses all in an amount to be established at trial. 65. Ms. Slayton is also entitled to be reinstated to employment by Defendant and, if reinstatement is not feasible, Ms. Slayton is entitled to an award of damages for future lost wages and benefits of employment. Retal 66. Ms, Slayton incorporates by reference the preceding Paragraphs as if fully restated herein. 67. 42 U.S.C. § 1981 prohibits Defendants from retaliating against Plaintiffs for complaining about and opposing race discrimination. 68. Ms. Slayton engaged in statutorily protected activity as defined by 42 U.S.C. § 1981 by complaining about and opposing race discrimination when she filed, and later amended, her Charge of Discrimination with the EEOC alleging, among other things, race discrimination and retaliation. 69. Defendant had notice of Ms. Slayion’s protected activity. 70. Shortly after Ms. Slayton filed and amended her Charge of Discrimination, Defendant terminated Ms. Slayton’s employment, 71. Defendant terminated Ms. Slayton’s employment because she engaged in statutorily protected activity 72. Defendant’s termination of Ms. Slayon’s employment constitutes intentional retaliation in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1981. 73. Defendant’s actions were willful, deliberate, and intended to cause Ms. Slayton harm and/or were committed with reckless disregard of the harm caused to Ms. Slayton, and were in derogation of her federally protected rights. 74. Asa direct and proximate result of Defendant’s intentional retaliation, Ms. Slayton has suffered out of pocket losses and Defendant deprived Ms. Slayton of a job, as well as income in the form of wages, health insurance, prospective retirement benefits, social security, and other benefits due to her, all in an amount to be established at trial. 75. Imaddition, Defendant's actions have caused, continue to cause, and will cause Ms. Slayton to suffer damages for emotional distress, mental anguish, loss of enjoyment of life, and other non-pecuniary losses all in an amount to be established at trial 76. Pursuant to § 1981, Plaintiffs are entitled to damages including back pay and lost 10 economic benefits, non-economic compensatory damages for pain and suffering and emotional distress, punitive damages, front pay or reinstatement in lieu of front pay, reasonable attorney's fees and costs of litigation pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1988, and all other relief recoverable under § 1981. PRAYER FOR RELIEF WHEREFORE, Plaintiff respectfully prays that this Court grant the following relief: (@) That Plaintiff be awarded a declaratory judgment that Defendant violated the Georgia Whistleblower Act, O.C.G.A. § 45-1-4 et seq.; Title VIL, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e er seg.; and 42USC. § 1981. () That Plaintiff'be granted judgment against Defendant; (©) That Plaintiff have and recover from Defendant back pay and fringe benefits, with prejudgment interest thereon; (@ That Plaintiff have and recover from Defendant reinstatement or front pay and fringe benefits, with prejudgment interest thereon; (© That Plaintiff have and recover compensatory damages in an amount to be determined by a jury; (®) That Plaintiff have and recover her attorney's fees and costs of litigation pursuant OCGA. §45-1-4(9, O.C.GA. § 13-6-11, Title VII, 42 U.S.C. § 1981, and all other applicable laws; and () Any and other such further monetary, non-monetary, and equitable relief that this Court deems equitable and just. PLAINTIFF DEMANDS A TRIAL BY JURY. Respectfully submitted this 18" day of July, 2018. iT LEGARE, ATTWOOD & WOLFE, LLC (si Amelia A. Ragan Cheryl B. Legare Georgia Bar No. 038553 cblegare@law-lle.com ‘Amelia A. Ragan Georgia Bar No. 831387 aaragan@law-lle.com Decatur Town Center Two Suite 380 125 Clairemont Avenue Decatur, GA 30030 ‘Telephone: (470) 823-4000 Facsimile: (470) 201-1212 Counsel for Plaintiff 12