By Kevin Hogencamp
When Albany City Manager Alfred Lott refused to pay reinstated firefighter Joey Pait the money Pait would have earned while he was under indictment, a judge intervened and forced Lott to settle up.
Now Lott is doing the same thing – out of retaliation, according to his attorney, and in violation of city personnel rules – to formerly indicted fire lieutenant Roderick Jolivette as he did to Pait.
So on Tuesday, Jolivette sued the City of Albany in Dougherty County Superior Court, seeking about $51,000 that he would have earned while he was under indictment between September 2009 and August 2010.
Jolivette’s attorney, Howard J. Stiller of Albany, says that the city’s actions are retaliatory. Further, “in addition to not receiving back pay, (Jolivette) has been deprived of any seniority, retirement, Social Security, insurance, or other benefits of employment which e would have received during the period during which he was suspended without pay,” Jolivette says in the lawsuit.
After being stopped for speeding, Jolivette was charged last year in Chattahoochee County with claiming that he worked for the Dougherty County Sheriff’s Office. The charge was dismissed in August. Lott then reinstated Jolivette, but refuses to pay Jolivette for the time that he missed while he was suspended without pay. Jolivette, meanwhile, has a pending federal racial discrimination suit against the city.
Pait, a longtime firefighter, was reinstated earlier this year after a seven-year legal battle that included beating a molestation charge, pleading no contest as a first offender to theft, and a lengthy effort to be rehired and receive back pay. He was reinstated by Lott and against Fire Chief James Carswell’s objections only after the city was forced to do so by Dougherty Chief Superior Court Judge Willie Lockette. Until Pait’s and now Jolivette’s situations, the city had never withheld funds from employees whose indictments were dismissed or who were found not guilty in a criminal case.
“Defendant’s action in not paying the plaintiff despite paying other City of Albany employees in the same or similar circumstances in effect treated the plaintiff differently from other employees and violate his equal protection rights under the Georgia Constitution,” the lawsuit states. “Defendant has deliberately, willfully and wantonly disregarded the plaintiff’s rights in failing to pay him back pay and has done so in bad faith.”
Jolivette is asking for a jury trial and to be rewarded attorney’s fee reimbursement “for the defendant’s bad faith, stubbornly litigious conduct, and for causing the plaintiff unnecessary trouble and expense in the absence of a justiciable issue of law or fact.”
Months before Jolivette’s arrest in Chattahoochee County, Lott overturned Carswell’s termination of Jolivette, who Carswell and Lott says committed theft of services by having firefighters clean out his relatives’ home. After Jolivette garnered vocal community support, including from several church leaders, Lott decided that Jolivette would be suspended for 30 days rather than fired, and that he would be demoted from assistant