Bartow County

Justice Department suing Georgia county for discrimination after 2 Black men fired

BARTOW COUNTY, Ga. — The Justice Department has filed a lawsuit against Bartow County, Georgia alleging that the county violated the Civil Rights Act of 1964 when it fired two Black men.

Prosecutors say the county subjected former employee Carlen Loyal to a racially hostile work environment and retaliated against former employee Bobby Turner before firing them both.

[DOWNLOAD: Free WSB-TV News app for alerts as news breaks]

According to U.S. Attorney Buchanan, Loyal was employed at the county’s Road Department for almost 10 years and Turner, who is his brother-in-law, was also employed with the department for several years.

In 2019, Loyal complained to his supervisor that a white co-worker sent him a text message referring to him as the “n-word.”

After Loyal complained, the human resources director called Loyal into his office where he subjected Loyal to additional and severe racial harassment in front of the employee who sent the racist text, according to the Justice Department. The HR director also demanded that Loyal tell him if he’d told anyone else about the text, and Loyal said he’d told Turner.


Two weeks later, the county accused Loyal and Turner of misconduct and fired them. According to the complaint, Loyal and Turner had each been promoted several times and had no history of discipline with the county.

Loyal and Turner filed discrimination charges with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) in Atlanta, which investigated and found reasonable cause that the county violated the Civil Rights Act.

“No one should be forced to labor in an environment where employers condone racial slurs and employees are expected to tolerate them,” Buchanan said. “It is also unacceptable for an employer to foster a work environment where employees with the courage to report such abhorrent behavior experience retaliation from supervisors and face termination of their jobs. Our office will vigorously and continuously leverage our resources to address this type of illegal discrimination in the workplace.”

[SIGN UP: WSB-TV Daily Headlines Newsletter]

The United States is asking the County to develop and implement policies that would prevent discrimination and retaliation. The U.S. is also seeking monetary relief for Loyal and Turner to compensate them for damages they sustained as a result of being fired.

Bartow County issued a statement about the lawsuit Thursday, calling the allegations “outrageous.”

“Bartow County rejects and denies the outrageous allegations of the Department of Justice. Bartow County government does not racially discriminate nor retaliate against its employees. The two employees in question were fired for repeatedly falsifying time sheets and claiming overtime hours for work they did not perform, thereby stealing from the county. We would take the same action against any other employee and have done so on other occasions. It is sad, but all too common today, that these employees then promptly claimed racial discrimination as the basis of their termination. We will be contesting the suit vigorously and presenting the facts.”