Laque to stand trial
Three former parish employees allege racism, retaliation
Gwendolyn Blackwell, Demona Harrison and Ophelia Walker Wilson worked in the Department of Community Service in 2003 when Laque ran for a second term in office. The three African-American employees are accusing Laque of terminating their employment because they supported Laque’s opponent, Darnell Abadie. They are also accusing Laque of racial discrimination.
The U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans found enough evidence to warrant a trial, and rejected Laque’s argument that the plaintiffs would have been fired regardless of their political speech. The appeals court also agreed that the plaintiffs have established a case of possible racial discrimination.
If they win, the employees would be eligible for back pay and compensation.
The suit was brought to the appellate court because Laque thought he was immune from such a lawsuit. The court ruled that he must stand trial.
“My clients were vocal in getting their department, which was majority African-American, to become a part of the civil service system in the parish,” John-Michael Lawrence, attorney for the three former employees said.
Lawrence says because of their effort to convert the department, and because they supported Abadie, who agreed that the department should have been converted, the three were fired.
Harold Koretsky, attorney for both the parish and Laque, says that his client didn’t fire anyone because of race or political retaliation.
“The appellate court’s decision overlooks the undisputed fact that an independent consultant recommended that three positions be eliminated in order to ensure civil service status for the remaining seven positions,” he said. “The former employees’ positions were selected for elimination by a three-person committee consisting of their department manager and the parish’s personnel manager and chief administrative officer. Laque merely adopted the committee’s recommendation.”
Koretsky says that his clients expect that all claims will ultimately be dismissed. However, Lawrence says the three former employees have a case.
“What’s important here is that Laque denied them civil service status, then fired them for exercising a constitutional right they had as non-civil service employees,” he said.
Subscribe Today and Save!!!
St. Charles Herald-Guide is an award-winning newspaper that covers all aspects of St. Charles Parish - from schools and parish government news to social events, features on our local residents and sports.
Order your subscription today!
Festival of Charities crowned new royalty on Aug. 9 in Destrehan at the American...
Targeting events with the most crowds, St. Charles Parish Public Schools has...
A $1.4 million bid has been awarded to Barriere Construction Co. in Boutte to...
Molly the pony is a Sea Biscuit kind of story that offers the hope that anyone can...
Forty workers with AT&T’s Luling work center walked off their jobs at 7 a.m. today...
A hungry and prepared Jesuit team spoiled host Hahnville’s preseason jamboree...
Bent's RV is a Full Service RV Dealership in Louisiana.
Keep calm and chive on - 1675 views
A $70,000 handicap van and Comfee seat recently donated by Chive Charities came as enormous relief to Carissa Oxford of Luling, who is determined to stay the course on helping her son, Alex, deal with a rare debilitating disease.