You are on page 1of 26

EXHIBIT "A"

IN THE SUPERIOR COVRTOF 61~6~ GIA


DEKALB COUNTY

KEISHA WILLIAMS

Plaintiff, }

V. C ivil Action F ile No .

DEKALB COUNTY, GEORGIA, } / (-~ C-D 2 0 ~ 7 -,E~


HUBBELL ELLIS AND KAREN A.
ANDERSON, IN THEIR INDIVIDUAL
AND OFFICIAL CAPACITIES

Defendants.

VERIFIED COMPLAINT

Plaintiff, KEISHA WILLIAMS ("Ms . Williams"), by and through her

undersigned counsel, files this Verified Complaint against Defendants, DEKALB

COUNTY, GEORGIA, HUBBELL ELLIS, and KAREN A . ANDERSON, in their

individual and official capacities showing this Honorable Court the following :

THE P ARTI ES

1.

Plaintiff is an individual resident and citizen of the State of Georgia ; and

thus, submits herself to the jurisdiction of this court for any and all purposes

related to or arising from the within action .


2.

Defendant, DEKALB COUNTY, GEORGIA, is a political subdivision of

the State of Georgia with the capacity to sue and be sued . The County may be

served with service of process by service upon Lee May, the Presiding

Officer/Chairman of the Board of Commissioners, at his place of business located

at 1300 Commerce Drive, Decatur, Georgia 30030 .

3.

Defendant, BURRELL ELLIS ("Ellis"), is the Chief Executive Officer

("CEO") of DeKalb County, who at all times relevant was acting under color of

law. Defendant Ellis is sued in his individual capacity and official capacity as

CEO. Service of process may be made by personally serving Defendant Ellis at his

place of business located at 1300 Commerce Drive, Decatur, Georgia 30030 .

4.

Defendant, Karen A. Anderson is a current and/or former employee of

DeKa1b County Police Services, who at all times was acting under color of law .

Defendant Anderson is sued in her individual capacity and official capacity as the

Acting Chief of DeKalb County Police Services . Service of process may be made

-2-
by personally serving Defendant Anderson at her place of employment located at

1960 West Exchange Place, 4'h Floor, Tucker, Georgia 30084 .

5.

On or about June 12, 2009, Plaintiff timely caused a written Ante Litem

Notice to be served upon the proper officers, agents, and employees of Defendant

DeKalb County pursuant to O .C .G.A. § 3b-11-1 .

6.

Plaintiff has complied with all conditions precedent for bringing this suit .

JURISDICTION & VENUE

7.

Venue is proper in DeKalb County pursuant to O .C .G.A. § t4-2-510 .

8.

This action is also brought against Defendant DeKalb County, Georgia

pursuant to the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 ("FMLA"), 29 U .S .C . §

2601 et m ., for monetary and liquidated damages, injunctive relief, full

reinstatement, promotions, other employment benefits on behalf of Plaintiff, and

attorneys' fees and expenses of litigation .

-3-
9.

Venue is proper in this Court as the facts giving rise to Plaintiffs claims

occurred in DeKalb County, State of Georgia, which is within the court's

jurisdiction .

10 .

Defendant DeKalb County, Georgia employs more than 50 employees at its

business locations maintained and operated within the State of Georgia .

11.

Therefore, during all times relevant to this action, Defendant DeKalb

County, Georgia was an "employer" as defined by 29 U .S.C . § 2611 et seat . of the

FMLA and is thus, covered by, and subject to the provisions of FMLA .

12.

Williams was employed with Defendant DeKalb County, Georgia for at least

12 months and worked at least 1,250 hours as defined by 29 U .S .C . § 2611 et sew.

of the FMLA and is thus, covered by, and subject to the provisions of FMLA .

-4-
STATEMENT OF FACTS

13.

Williams was employed full-time with DeKalb County Police Services as an

Assistant Director from on or about May 29, 2007 until her unjust termination on

or about February 6, 2009 .

14.

Williams maintained exemplary performance while employed with DeKalb

County Police Services where her duties included overseeing the public

information office, Human Resources, and the Fiscal Management Office .

15.

Williams reported directly to Chief Terrell D. Bolton ("Chief Bolton")

during the course of her employment with DeKalb County Police Services until

Chief Bolton took an unexpected leave of absence from his job on or around

January 31, 2009 .

16.

In February 2009, Defendant Ellis who was the newly elected CEO of

DeKalb County appointed Defendant Anderson as Acting Chief where Williams

-5-
reported directly to Defendant Anderson as her supervisor in the performance of

her job duties .

17.

During the incidents in question, Defendant Anderson was an employee and

agent of Defendant DeKalb County, Georgia .

18.

The circumstances surrounding Chief Bolton's leave of absence created a

media frenzy full of accusations and speculation about Chief Bolton's future with

DeKalb County Police Services .

19.

On or about February 2, 2009, Defendant Ellis issued an executive order

prohibiting any proposed promotions, demotions, reassignments, transfers, and

disciplinary actions of any employee in Police Services without written notice to

the affected employee prior to taking the proposed action . The executive order

was effective immediately and remained in effect for sixty (60) days.

20.

On or about February 2, 2009, Defendant Anderson contacted Williams by

telephone after her normal work hours to inform Williams that she had scheduled a

-6-
meeting with the Executive Command Staff, including Williams, on February 3,

2009 at the request of Defendant Ellis who intended to meet with Defendant

Anderson after the staff meeting, but Defendant Anderson did not give Williams

any reasons for the staff meeting .

21 .

Later that same evening, on or about February 2, 2009, Williams went to the

emergency room for medical treatment because she experienced dizziness and

nausea due to a migraine headache .

22.

Williams had a history of suffering from severe migraine headaches dating

back to the 1990s .

23.

Williams' physician prescribed Williams some medication and

recommended that she take a few days off from work with a scheduled return to

work date of February 5, 2009 .

24.

On or about February 3, 2009, prior to the scheduled time for the staff

meeting, Williams contacted Defendant Anderson by telephone to inform her that

-7-
she was unable to attend the staff meeting because she was under a doctor's care

due to her medical condition and requested leave .

25.

During their February 3rd telephone conversation, Defendant Anderson never

told Williams that she was in jeopardy of losing her job with DeKalb County

Police Services .

26.

On or about February 3, 2009, Defendant Ellis told reporters that Williams

was on leave during a news conference, and later Defendant Ellis issued a news

release informing the public that Williams was on "requested leave until further

notice."

2 7.

On or about February 7, 2009, Williams received a letter from Defendant

Anderson, which was taped on the front door of her home residence, informing

Williams that her employment with DeKalb Police Services was terminated with

an effective date of February 6, 2009 at the direction Defendant Ellis ; however,

Defendant Anderson did not provide Williams with a reason for her termination .

-8-
28.

Prior to February 6, 2009, Defendant Anderson and Defendant Ellis failed to

provide Williams' written notice of her termination prior to taking the proposed

action as required by executive order issued by Defendant Ellis on February 2,

2009.

29.

In fact, Defendant Anderson never informed Williams that she could be

terminated and/or provided Williams with any return to work requirements .

30.

Williams was terminated while on requested medical leave and remained

under a physician care until February 11, 2009 .

31.

On or about February 11, 2009, Defendant Ellis announced during a news

conference that Williams had been fired after she "abandoned her job" after going

on leave on February 3, 2009 .

32.

Although Williams has applied for various jobs in public relations since her

termination in February 2009, she remains unemployed through no fault of her

-9-
own because of the circumstances surrounding her separation from DeKalb County

Police Services .

COUNT I: PETITION FOR WRIT OF MANDAMUS

33.

Plaintiff hereby incorporates herein by reference paragraphs l through 32 of

this Complaint .

34.

This cause of action is a writ of mandamus to require Defendant Ellis to

perform his official duty and satisfy Williams' procedural due process rights by

enforcing his executive order requiring notice of termination be given to Williams

prior to taking the proposed action under the Fifth Amendment as incorporated by

the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution and the due process

clause of the Georgia Constitution, GA CONST Art . 1, § i, ¶ I, pursuant to

O.C. G.A. § 9- 6- 20.

- 1Q-
35.

Williams has a property interest in her employment created by the issuance

of the executive order from Defendant Ellis who is the final policy maker of

DeKalb County Police Services .

36.

Williams was not terminated for cause, and she has a clear legal right to the

process guaranteed by the executive order issued by Defendant Ellis .

37 .

Williams has no other legal remedy for the relief sought since Defendants

allege that she was a non-merit status employee with no right of appeal under the

DeKalb County Code.

38.

Williams was subjected to a great injustice by Defendants' failure to provide

her with written notice of her termination prior to taking the proposed action .

39.

As a direct and proximate result of her unlawful discharge by Defendants,

Williams has suffered and continues to suffer lost of employment, lost wages,

- 11-
future compensation, lost benefits, emotion distress, and expenses in seeking other

suitable employment .

COUNT II - VIOLATIONS OF FMLA

40.

Plaintiff incorporates herein by reference paragraphs 1 through 39 of this

Complaint .

41.

In this complaint, Williams shows that she was an eligible employee

suffering from a serious health condition within the meaning of FMLA as defined

in 29 U .S .C . § 2611 at the time that she requested medical leave from Defendants .

42 .

Further, Williams shows that Defendant DeKalb County is a covered

employer under the FMLA in that it employs 50 or more employees .

43.

Thus, Williams had an absolute entitlement to 12 weeks of unpaid job

protected leave, the right to have health benefits continued during her leave of

- 12-
absence, and the right to be fully reinstated to the same or equivalent job position

pursuant to the FMLA .

44.

Nevertheless, Defendants failed to inform Williams of her rights to 12 weeks

of jab protected leave under the FMLA after being aware of Williams' need for

medical leave .

45.

Consequently, Defendants interfered with Williams' right to take leave and

retaliated against Williams by terminating her on February 6, 2009 after she

notified Defendants of her need for medical leave .

46.

Moreover, Defendants further violated Williams' rights under the FMLA by

failing to provide her with notice of her return to work requirements prior to

terminating her employment .

47.

Defendants' unlawful actions deprived Williams of her rights under the

FMLA.

- 13-
48.

Accordingly, Williams is entitled to recover damages from Defendants

under 29 U.S .C . § 2617(a)(1)(A) for Defendant's willful violation of the FMLA,

including liquidated damages .

49.

In addition, Williams is entitled to equitable relief including but not limited

to full reinstatement by Defendants under 29 U .S.C. § 2617(a)(1 )(B) .

;~1a

Williams is also entitled to an award of reasonable attorney's fees,

reasonable expert witness fees, and other litigation costs under 29 U .S.C. §

2617(a)(3).

COUNT III - DEFAMATION/LIBEL AND SLANDER

51 .

Plaintiff incorporates herein by reference paragraphs 1 through 50 of this

Complaint .

52.

Defendants herein, their respective agents, employees, representatives, have

publicly made non-privileged and false statements regarding Plaintiff Williams,

-14-
and the circumstances surrounding her separation from DeKalb County Police

Services .

53.

Specifically, Defendant Ellis made statements of a stigmatizing nature about

Williams' separation from DeKalb County Police Services, and publicly

announced that Williams had abandoned her job, despite the fact that Williams was

terminated while on requested medical leave .

54.

Defendant Ellis false statements were made with malice and specific intent

to damage Williams' reputation, particularly in the field of law enforcement and/or

public relations, effectively preventing Williams from obtaining future

employment .

55.

Defendants' false and malicious statements were published to third parties .

56.

As a direct result of Defendant's conduct, Williams has incurred damages,

including, but not limited to, compensatory damages, pain and suffering, lost of

- 15-
wages, lost of future wages, lost of employment benefits, humiliation, and medical

expenses .

COUNT IV - TORTIOUS INTERFERENCE

57.

Plaintiff incorporates herein by reference paragraphs 1 through 56 of this

Complaint.

58.

Defendant Ellis induced Defendant Anderson to terminate Williams without

just cause and notice prior to taking the proposed action .

59.

Williams lost her income because of Defendants' negligence and

interference with her right to work .

60.

As a direct result of Defendants' illegal conduct, Williams has suffered and

will continue to suffer irreparable harm .

- 16-
61 .

PRAYER FOR RELIEF

WHEREFORE, as a result of the violations by the Defendants, Plaintiff

demands :

A. Trial by jury ;

B . A Writ of Mandamus issued by the Court compelling


Defendants to take the appropriate actions to enforce its policies
with respect to Williams ;

C . Full reinstatement, promotions, pay, including interest, bonuses,


including interest and other benefits ;

D. General and actual damages ;

E. Liquidated Damages ;

F. All other damages allowed by law ;

G. Defendant be permanently enjoined from discriminating against


Plaintiff and all other employees who have complained of
conduct that may have violated the FMLA ;

H. Reasonable Attorneys' fees, reasonable expert witness fees,


costs and expenses of litigation ; and

I . Such other and further relief as the Court shall deem just and
proper.

- 17-
This This 4 ~ day of January, 2010 .

Respectfully Submitted,

Tameka A . West
Attorney for Plaintiff
Keisha Williams
Georgia Bar No . 748995
THE WEST LEGAL GROUP ' , P.C.
2242 Mt . Zion Road
Jonesboro, GA 30236
Phone (678) 216-0305
Fax (678) 216-030 6

-18-
IN THE SUPERIOR COURT OF GEORGIA
DEKALB COUNTY

KEISHA WILLIAMS

Plaintiff,

V.

DEKALB COUNTY, GEORGIA,


BURRELL ELLIS AND KAREN A .
ANDERSON, IN THEIR INDIVIDUAL
AND OFFICIAL CAPACITIES

VERIFICATION

Personally appe ed before the undersigned attesting officer duly authorized


to administer oaths, ~~.15~ ~ W ~ l I i a ~mg , who after being duly
sworn in accordance with law, state under oath, and under penalty of perjury, and
of their own personal knowledge that the foregoing VERIFIED COMPLAINT is
true and correct .

Further affiant sayeth not .


r

ISHA WILLIAMS
SIGNATURE OF PLAINTIFF

Sworn tQ and subscribed before me this

Notary Public

My Commission Expires : ~)11 ct /,'?l

[NOTARY SEAL ]
EXHIBIT "B"
IN THE SUPERIOR COURT OF DEKALB COUNTY
STATE OF GEORGIA

KEISHA WILLIAMS,

Plaintiff,

V. CIVIL ACTION FILE NO.


10 CV 20$7- 8
DEKALB COUNTY, GEORGIA,
BURRELL ELLIS AND KAREN A .
ANDERSON, IN THEIR INDIVIDUAL
AND OFFICIAL CAPACITIES,

Defendants .

NOTICE OF FILING NOTICE OF REMOVAL


IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE
NORTHERN DISTRICT OF GEORGIA ATLANTA DIVISION

To : Clerk , Superior Court o f DeKalb County, State of Georgia

Please take notice that, pursuant to 28 U .S .C . §§ 1441 and 1446, Defendants DeKalb

County, Georgia, Burrell Ellis and Karen A . Anderson, in their individual and official capacities,

have removed the above-styled action from this Court to the United States District Court for the

Northern District of Georgia, Atlanta Division . A copy of the Notice of Removal filed in the

United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, Atlanta Division, is attached

hereto as Exhibit "A ."

Respectfully submitted this 3rd day of March, 2010 .

Laura K. Johnson
CHIEF ASSISTANT COUNTY ATTORNEY
Georgia Bar No . 392090

Sam L . Brannen, Jr.


SENIOR ASSISTANT COUNTY ATTORNEY
Georgia Bar No . 077301

Attorneys for Defendants


PLEASE ADDRESS ALL
COMMUNICATIONS TO :

Sam L . Brannen, Jr .
Senior Assistant County Attorney
1300 Commerce Drive, 5th Floor
Decatur, GA 30030
(404) 371-3011
Email : sbrannenjr@co .dekalb .ga .us

-2-
IN THE SUPERIOR COURT OF DEKALB COUNTY
STATE OF GEORGIA

KEISHA WILLIAMS,

Plaintiff,

V. CIVIL ACTION FILE NO .


10 CV 2087- 8
DEKALB COUNTY, GEORGIA,
BURRELL ELLIS AND KAREN A .
ANDERSON, IN THEIR INDIVIDUAL
AND OFFICIAL CAPACITIES,

Defendants .

CERTIFICATE OF SERVICE

This is to certify that I have this day served counsel for the opposing party in the

foregoing matter with a copy of NOTICE OF FILING NOTICE OF REMOVAL IN THE

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF

GE ORGIA, ATLAN TA DIVI SION by depositing a copy of the same in the United States mail

in a properly addressed envelope with adequate postage thereon to ensure delivery .

This 3rd day of March, 201 0.

Sam L . Brannen, Jr.


SENIOR ASSISTANT COUNTY ATTORNEY
Georgia Bar No . 077301

PERSON SERVED :

Tameka A . West, Esq .


The West Legal Group, P.C .
??42 Mt . Zion Road
Jonesboro, Georgia 30236
IN THE UN ITED STATES DISTR ICT COURT
FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF GEORGIA
ATLANTA D I VIS ION

KEISHA WILLIAMS,
CIVIL ACT ION FILE
Plaintiff, NO.

V.

DEKALB COUNTY, GEORGIA, (Superior Court of


BURRELL ELLIS AND KAREN A . DeKalb County, State of
ANDERSON, IN THEIR INDIVIDUAL Georgia, Civil Action File
AND OFFICIAL CAPACITIES, Number 10-CV-2087-5)

Defendants .

CERTIFICATE OF SERVICE

This is to certify that I have this day served the opposing party in the

foregoing matter with a copy of NOTICE OF REMO VA L by depositing a copy

of the same in the United States mail in a properly addressed envelope with

adequate postage thereon to ensure delivery .

This is to further certify that the foregoing document was prepared using

Times New Roman 14 pt font .

This 3ra day of February, 2010 .

Sam L . Brannen, Jr .
SENIOR ASSISTANT COUNTY ATTORNEY
Georgia Bar No . 077301
PERSON SERVED :

Tameka A . West, Esq .


The West Legal Group, P .C .
2242 Mt. Zion Road
Jonesboro, Georgia 30236

-2-