After our article published yesterday, the Mayor’s office asked us to contact Tom Andrews to allow him to explain the circumstances surrounding the racial discrimination suit in Georgia and the ethics investigation in Anne Arundel County.
In a nutshell, Andrews says that the jury and the judge got it wrong.
In terms of background, a black female director of a department resigned. Her deputy, a white male, became the acting director and also applied for the job. The job ultimately went to a black female and the acting director sued alleging racial discrimination.
Despite the jury’s verdict, Andrews maintains that he hired the most qualified candidate for the job, regardless of race–it just happened to be a female African American. Testimony in the trial from the plaintiff alleged that the woman had never completed an interview; however Andrews counters that she was more qualified and did complete the interview. The plaintiff testified that a member of the County Commission had asked Mr. Andrews to select an African American candidate; however, there was no additional testimony offered to support that allegation.
We asked about the “white marbles/black marbles” comment in the testimony. Andrews says that the phrase was accurate, but taken out of context. A witness for the plaintiff (a former employee that Andrews had fired) said that Andrews used the phrase to describe the hiring practices in the County. According to Andrews the phrase was used while explaining his belief that the government ought to reflect the diversity of the people they serve. He recalls saying that “we have black marbles, white marbles, brown marbles, and yellow marbles” to illustrate that the workforce needs to be diverse to match the community. Andrews further said that many department heads testified that they had never received any instructions to hire (or not) based on race.
The jury awarded the initial $300K to the plaintiff and a judge was to later rule on an additional amount that would include front pay, back pay, future earnings, pensions, and legal fees among others. The judge awarded an additional $1.18 million to the plaintiff which was a surprise to the County.
According to Andrews, the County had never won a discrimination case in that particular court and entered into an agreement to settle with the plaintiff for a lesser amount with a promise to not appeal the court’s verdicts. He did not know the exact amount. Andrews retired from Fulton County at the end of 2007, well before the case went to trial in 2012.
We asked about the Anne Arundel County investigation back in 1999 and Andrews was unaware of any investigation or any finding of the investigation. Our reference to the Baltimore Sun’s articles seemed to catch him by surprise as he recalls receiving a notice that the complaint was dismissed. He was unaware that the FBI was involved, that there was even an investigation, much less ruling. The ruling was issued several weeks after Andrews had left Anne Arundel County.