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DOT discrimination lawsuit tops $200M January 9, 2007

Posted by C.A.R.D in African Americans, African-American, Card, Citizens Against Racism and Discrimination, Discriminate, Discrimination, Lawsuit, Racism, Racist.

MONTGOMERY, Ala. – A racial discrimination lawsuit against the Alabama Department of Transportation is drawing to an end after more than 21 years of legal battles that cost the state more than $200 million and created dramatic advances for black employees.

The litigation has gone on so long that six different governors have been involved with it, and the original plaintiff, Johnny Reynolds, died two years ago. “I never realized it would last this long. I had several heart attacks worrying about this,” Reynolds told The Associated Press in 2001.

Reynolds sued the DOT in May 1985, when Gov. George C. Wallace was serving his last term. His suit contended discrimination in the highway agency’s hiring and promotion of blacks. Eventually, some white employees joined in, saying they were discriminated against because they weren’t promoted during the drawn-out litigation.

The focal point of the case – a consent decree reached between the state and the plaintiffs in 1994, when Jim Folsom Jr. was governor – was finally completed last year by Gov. Bob Riley’s administration after years of delays, and it was allowed to expire Dec. 31.

For state officials, it was reason to celebrate the new year.

“It means we can function just like any other state department. We can hire with the normal hiring procedures,” Assistant Transportation Director Dan Morris said.

“It represents a good day for Alabama taxpayers,” said Attorney General Troy King, who was in high school when the case began.

The expiration of the consent decree, which spelled out hiring and promotion goals for the agency to achieve, doesn’t mean the case is completely over.

“There are a lot of issues left,” including what to do with millions in fines paid by the state, said Robert Wiggins, lead attorney for the plaintiffs.

State officials say the state has paid out $206 million, so far, on litigation costs and that will climb some as the case winds down. The expenses include paying the legal bills for both sides, hiring consultants and experts, paying contempt fines and compensating people who suffered damages.

They estimated another $100 million in “soft costs,” including paying state employees who focused on implementing new hiring and promotion practices and the extra cost of contracting out state engineering work that would have been in-house except for a long hiring freeze that resulted from the case.

To put it in perspective, the governor says the cost is more than enough to pave all 1,000 miles of interstate in Alabama, then give Interstate 20 a second layer.

C.a.r.d {Citizens Against Racism and Discrimination} Source: Charleston.net

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