By Kevin Hogencamp
City Manager Alfred Lott orchestrated a white 61-year-old administrator’s firing on fabricated grounds that she falsified her employment application after a black co-worker complained of her higher pay, according to public records and audiotaped conversations on the matter.
City Attorney Nathan Davis warned Lott that his action could have the appearance of discrimination, records show.
Martha Faye Everson’s firing occurred 10 days after co-worker Beverly McCrimmon complained that she should be making as much money as Everson. Everson, of Baconton, says in a federal complaint that she is a victim of race and age discrimination. She is 61 and white; McCrimmon and Everson’s replacement as the city’s benefits administrator are black.
Everson was fired about 4½ months after she accepted the City of Albany position to work closer to her home; she previously worked in a similar position with Habitat for Humanity International in Americus, records show.
Records show that Everson, who has 11 years more experience than McCrimmon, received contradictory dismissal letters in back-to-back days from Lott and then-Human Resources Director Mary LaMont. Evidently, neither Lott nor LaMont realized the other had dismissed Everson; LaMont’s letter is dated March 11; Lott’s is dated March 12.
At issue in Everson’s dismissal are the educational level that Everson obtained and the school she attended. Everson correctly stated on her application that she received an accounting diploma from Albany Area Vocational School, and, on a computerized men of types of educational institutions, she correctly stated that her degree was like that of a degree from a technical college. Vocational educational and technical education are interchangeable and “vocational school” was not among Everson’s options to select, records show.
Everson never said on her application that she received an accounting degree from Albany Technical College, as was falsely claimed by Lott.
“Dear Ms. Everson: We recently learned that you provided false information regarding your education on your employment application. On your application, you stated that you received a degree from Albany Technical College in Accounting. Because that information is false, your employment with the City of Albany ahs been terminated. We wish you the best of luck in your future endeavors.”
LaMont’s letter to Everson was quite different.
“The City of Albany does not recognize the two (accounting diploma and account degree) 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.”
Everson was ordered to leave city hall by the next business day. Public records 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.
Records also show that McCrimmon 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.”
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.