Racial discrimination alleged in fire chief search in Ga. county

JONESBORO — Clayton County commissioners have been accused of racial discrimination in their search for a new fire department leader, interim fire Chief Dwayne Jackson has confirmed.

Commissioners began vaguely discussing a complaint filed last week concerning the fire chief search during their pre-meeting work session Tuesday night. Later, during a break in the commission's business meeting, Jackson said it pertained to the choice of an interim fire chief.

Jackson, the department's first African-American leader, was appointed to the interim position in July.

Tuesday, he said another employee of the department who had applied for the position filed a complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, claiming the employee was discriminated against on the basis of race.

Jackson declined to name the employee who filed the complaint.

The complaint was one of a few issues commissioners raised during pre-meeting discussions about raising the job requirements for the fire and police chief positions.

Commissioners were asked to require applicants to preferably have a college degree to hold either position. There was a provision that allowed candidates who didn't have a college degree to apply, but they would have had to essentially have twice the amount of professional experience that a college graduate was required to have.

The commissioners were split on whether to move forward but a slim majority of three commissioners decided to hold off on making the changes.

Chairman Jeff Turner said delaying a decision on the job requirements will set the fire chief search back by about a month and candidates will have to reapply. He also said he had not seen the EEOC complaint.

Stay tuned to www.news-daily.com for updates. Full details will be in Friday's edition.