ATLANTA,None - A race discrimination lawsuit against MARTA and its general manager is being allowed to go forward despite the objections of MARTA lawyers.
MARTA Wants Race Discrimination Suit Tossed
The former Director of Revenue for the Atlanta transit system said he was removed from his senior manager level position after he fired an African American worker for allegedly stealing as much as $13,000 from Breeze Card machines in 2007.
A federal Magistrate Judge recently denied MARTA's efforts to get the case tossed out, although an appeal is possible.
As Director of Revenue for MARTA, Robert Thomas oversaw all money-related issues and had nearly 200 people reporting to him.
"His job was to safeguard MARTA's revenue and that's exactly what he did," Thomas' lawyer Josh Capilouto said.
But the lawyers said when Thomas discovered and then fired one revenue agent for taking money from Breeze Card Machines, he was the one who found himself switching jobs and in trouble with General Manager Beverly Scott.
The man Thomas fired was African American; Thomas is white. Thomas claims in the Federal lawsuit that he was forced into a quote "do nothing job" because of race discrimination.
"What ended up happening was Mr. Thomas was demoted, questioned, berated and then the employee that was accused of stealing was reinstated," Capilouto said.
Thomas didn't want to be interviewed for this story for fear of retribution. He said he found out about his job change after Scott and other higher ups met with a group of Revenue Agents after the firing.
"They complained that Mr. Thomas was racist and didnt agree with the ways he went about investigating the theft," Capilouto said.
Thomas said the employee's firing was approved by the system's Termination Review Board and he was also given authority to hide undercover cameras in some of the Breeze Card Machines to prove his allegations. But he said Scott didn't want to listen to any of the evidence and instead asked, "What's $13,000 to a 22-year employee?"
In court papers, Scott insists that she did not make the decision to change Thomas' position and denies making the comments.
When Channel 2 Action News reporter Tony Thomas asked MARTA for a statement about the Magistrate Judge's ruling and the lawsuit, a spokesperson emailed back saying, "MARTA does not comment on any pending litigation."