EEOC denies attorney's claim

ALBANY, Ga. -- According to documents obtained Tuesday morning by The Albany Herald, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission said that during an investigation it was unable to conclude that the city of Albany violated any federal employment statutes when former assistant city attorney Kathy Strang was dismissed.

According to the April 26 document, entitled "Notice of Dismissal," the decision does not "certify" that the city is in full compliance with all federal employment statutes, but says it found nothing to suggest that the city violated any federal discrimination statutes either.

Davis fired Strang for "unprofessionalism and negligence," a move that was appealed by Strang to former City Manager Alfred Lott who, on June 30, 2010, upheld Davis' decision.

Strang, who filed her own grievance against Davis, contends that Davis had been the one who had contributed to a hostile work environment through both derogatory comments to her and unequal treatment of her when compared to another assistant city attorney.

Albany Mayor Willie Adams said Tuesday that he feels the EEOC's letter shows that both Davis and Lott made the right decision.

"I'm glad they reached the conclusion that they did," Adams said. "But there is nothing that keeps her from suing in that letter. I hope it won't come to that."

Strang has 90 days to appeal the EEOC's decision.

In his letter to Strang, Lott wrote that "the cumulative consequence of your misconduct was to create a hostile work environment for all other employees in the city attorney's office," and that Strang's conduct worsened that environment through her use of "racial slurs and disparaging references to the race of fellow employees."

In terms of the professional performance of her duties as an attorney, Lott wrote that because Strang presented nothing at her appeal hearing to refute Davis' claims about her conduct, he has accepted Davis' opinions on those matters.

Lott also found issue with her degree of involvement with a performance improvement plan, or PIP, that she had been placed on.

"The evidence clearly indicates that you did not develop a strategy to strengthen your ability to create an atmosphere of teamwork and collegial engagement as directed in writing by the coaching and mentoring plan," Lott wrote.

"In summary, I have reviewed all of the matters concerning the termination recommendation presented for my consideration by your supervisor, Mr. Nathan Davis, and decided to sustain the termination recommendation," he wrote.

In her grievance, Strang said that she was treated differently from another assistant attorney through work assignments and reassignments, training opportunities, discriminate enforcement of certain policies and through general social disparities.

"For these reasons, I request an immediate transfer and end to the hostile, harassing and discriminatory treatment to which Mr. Davis has subjected me," she wrote. "I believe that I have been discriminated against based upon my age and race. I believe I have been retaliated against based upon my participation in the EEO counseling process and based upon my report to the EEO manager that Mr. Davis had a gun on city property."

Since Strang's dismissal, the city commission has amended its charter so as to make assistant city attorneys -- like the city attorney -- an appointee of the commission rather than an employee hired by the city manager.