Edward Buckley of Buckley Beal (from left), with clients Jimmy Wilson, Audrey Fuller and Robert Nibbs and associate Isaac Raisner. (Courtesy photo)

The director of the Georgia Vocational and Rehabilitation Agency has resigned—a departure that comes less than three months after the state paid $1.5 million to settle claims of racial discrimination against three black administrators he fired.

Sean Casey resigned his position as GVRA’s head around Feb. 18, said Candice Broce, a spokeswoman for Gov. Brian Kemp. Shawn Ryan, commissioner of the state Department of Administrative Services, was named as Casey’s replacement.

“We thank Sean Casey for his previous service,” Broce added. “Ultimately, we decided to move in a different direction.”

Broce would not comment on whether Casey’s replacement was linked to his 2016 firing of Audrey Fuller, the agency’s former assistant director of training centers; Robert Nibbs, the agency’s former chief business development officer; and Jimmy Wilson, its former chief financial and chief operating officer.

The three administrators sued Casey and the agency in 2017, alleging racial discrimination prompted their firings. The state settled the case in November. The settlement included no admission of liability or wrongdoing.

GVRA’s executive director serves at the pleasure of the governor and the agency’s nine-member board.

Casey could not be located for comment.

Casey fired the three administrators just six weeks after Gov. Nathan Deal appointed him as the agency’s director in October 2016. He did so without consulting GVRA’s human resources division or the attorney general for advice, according to the fired administrators’ attorney, Edward Buckley of Atlanta’s Buckley Beal.

Instead, Sean Casey apparently consulted his wife, former labor and employment lawyer Tiffani Casey—the associate general counsel for United Distributors, Buckley told The Daily Report.  United Distributors is the largest alcoholic beverage wholesaler in Georgia and Alabama.

Emails sent from Tiffani Casey’s corporate email account to her husband provided a fill-in-the-blank script for him to follow when firing the employees, said Buckley, who obtained the emails during discovery.

Tiffani Casey’s supervisor, William Shearer III, general counsel for United Distributors, told The Daily Report in January that she didn’t compose or send the emails. Instead, Shearer said Casey told him her husband used her company laptop at the couple’s home to email himself notes. Shearer added that Tiffani Casey did not write the emails, did not send them and had “no clue” about the content.

Before joining United Distributors, Tiffani Casey spent six years as a labor and employment lawyer at the Atlanta offices of Fisher & Phillips.