|Former City Manager, Mitchell Johnson and former Police Chief, David Wray. Photo credit: News-Record.com.|
In defense of its actions against Mr. Wray, the City of Greensboro relies on a decision by the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals (the Circuit with jurisdiction over North Carolina's federal courts) holding that an employee's dishonesty is a legitimate, non-discriminatory reason for termination. See Curry v. Alamance Health Services, 1994 WL 242288 (M.D.N.C. Apr. 11, 1994), aff'd 54 F.3d 772 (4th Cir. 1995).
This case demonstrates how even corrective personnel actions can sometimes lead to discrimination complaints, regardless of the plaintiff's race. The case and its long timeline are also good examples of how protracted and expensive employment discrimination cases can become. A review of the docket shows some 52 filings over the course of 4 years, which likely has generated prodigious legal fees for the City of Greensboro.
Similarly, the plaintiff's counsel has likely incurred substantial fees over the course of this protracted litigation. If the plaintiff were to prevail in the case, these fees would present an additional exposure to the City that could very well prove greater than the plaintiff's damages. This is so because courts routinely award prevailing plaintiff's their attorney's fees as part of the final judgment in employment discrimination actions. Whether this plaintiff ultimately prevails or not, it seems clear that the City of Greensboro will have paid substantial, costly attorney's fees and expenses over the course of a litigation that has already consumed more than four years of time. The importance of experienced counsel capable of streamlining litigation and achieving timely and economical results in employment litigation matters cannot be understated.