By Kevin Hogencamp
Ten days after an Albany city employee complained that she should be making as much money as a new employee performing similar duties, the new employee was fired for allegedly falsifying her resume. But to soften the blow, she was given a severance check.
Martha Everson, of Baconton, says in a federal complaint that she is a victim of race and age discrimination. She is 61 and white; her replacement as the city’s benefits administrator and the employee who was seeking a pay raise is black.
At issue in Everson’s dismissal is whether the certificate she received from Albany Technical College, which was then called Albany Technical School, is equivalent to an associate’s degree.
“The City of Albany does not recognize the two as being equal or equivalent,” then-Human Resources Management Director Mary LaMont said in a March 11 letter to Everson. “As a result, the City of Albany has made the decision to end the employment relationship effective immediately upon receipt of this notice. Mr. (Alfred) Lott, City Manager, has approved a 30-day severance package to assist you in your transition.”
Records show that human resources administrator Beverly McCrimmon, who is black, complained on March 1 that Everson was hired on Oct. 19, 2009 at an annual salary of $37,442 while McCrimmon, who has the same title after working 12 years for the city, was making $1,768 less than Everson.
“The cause of my grievance is that Mary LaMont, HR Director, refuses to give any consideration to adjusting my salary to reflect 13 years of service as outlined in (in the city personnel manual) …” McCrimmon wrote in her complaint. “I would like my salary to be increased to reflect years of service and experience in my current position … I would also like retroactive pay beginning the first date of employment for the new employee.”
Public records, meanwhile, show that Lott, who is black, required LaMont, who is white, to replace Everson with black city worker who did not meet the position’s minimum qualifications.
Lott has regularly committed personnel infractions, many of which have resulted in federal complaints and huge payouts to aggrieved employees, since the first six months of being hired in 2005. Indeed, there is no provision in the city charter or personnel policies that allow Lott to awarded severances, which as with salaries are fully funded by Albany taxpayers.
It was LaMont’s subsequent federal race and sex discrimination complaint that prompted the majority of City Commissioners to force Lott to turn his resignation notice, which is effective July 31, 2011.