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Two years after Fulton County, Ga., lost a reverse discrimination case in federal court, the county has paid three white former employees $3.5 million in damages. Atlanta attorney Edward D. Buckley III, a partner at Buckley & Klein, said the county paid the judgment on June 30, less than three weeks after the U.S. Supreme Court denied, without comment, Fulton’s petition for a writ of certiorari. Fulton County v. Lambert, No. 01-1568 (U.S. June 10, 2002). A federal jury awarded $2.9 million to three white supervisors at Fulton’s public works department after determining that they had been disciplined and subsequently fired because of their race. The judgment the county paid last month to Chester L. Lambert III, James Heath and the estate of William E. Mowrey, who died this year, includes interest accumulated during the county’s two-year appeal and an estimated $425,000 in legal fees, Buckley said. The three men claimed they were disciplined for failing to remedy a work environment that was hostile to black employees. “That’s what Fulton County claimed, that they didn’t do enough to stop this alleged racially hostile environment,” Buckley said. “In the trial of this case, we demonstrated that the racially hostile environment was being created by the very people complaining about it. Our guys were doing everything they could to put a stop to it.” The jury — and subsequently a panel of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals –determined that a county report condemning the white supervisors written by the county’s then-contract compliance and equal employment opportunity officer “was a fabrication,” Buckley said. The appellate opinion also condemned the report’s author as “motivated by a racially evil motive or intent.” That county officer, Michael Cooper, also was named as a defendant in another reverse discrimination suit that led a federal judge in 1999 to abolish the county’s affirmative action program as unconstitutionally biased against white contractors. Cooper now works for the state Department of Transportation. The Lambert suit is one of four major reverse discrimination suits that Fulton has lost in recent years. The most recent case was brought against the county by eight white female librarians, who won a $23.4 million verdict against the county last January. U.S. District Judge Beverly B. Martin reduced that verdict to $16.8 million last May. The county is appealing that judgment.

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