Mannnn… this is so messed up.
A Black North Carolina town manager has been fired after police officers and other city employees walked off the job last month, claiming that the town manager was creating a hostile work environment.
Kenly, North Carolina Mayor Tooie Hales said an investigation into the allegations against the new town manager, Justine Jones, found no toxic environment created by Jones.
In July, Kenly police chief John Gibson and all five full-time officers who worked for the department resigned. Gibson claimed that Jones created a hostile work environment in which he could no longer work. Two of the town clerks also left.
Only three part-time officers ran the department with backup from the Johnston County Sheriff’s Office.
In his resignation letter, Gibson said Kenly had made “substantial progress that we had hoped to continue.” However, employees also submitted resignation letters that cited a “hostile,” “toxic,” and “stressful” work environment ever since Jones was hired.
The new town manager has created an environment I do not feel we can perform our duties and services to the community, Gibson said in a Facebook statement that has since been deleted.
After more than a month of dealing with how the city would move forward, the Kenly Town Council voted 3-2 Tuesday to fire Jones during a special session.
She will likely finish out her duties for the remainder of this week.
Mayor Hales said Jones was fired because it was the “best way to move forward for the town.”
It was unclear if Gibson, who had been the police chief for 21 years, or any of the former officers would be reinstated.
According to the town website, police chief and utility clerk positions remain vacant. Therefore, an interim employee fills the town clerk.
Before coming to Kenly, Jones worked in Richland County, South Carolina as a research manager and assistant director. She was ultimately fired and sued the county, claiming she was racially discriminated against.
In the lawsuit, Jones alleges “hostile” treatment by Richland County leaders and her supervisor and retaliation after reporting acts of alleged misconduct. In addition, she claims in the lawsuit that she was not compensated appropriately and treated disparately due to illness.
Jones released the following statement about her termination:
While all related information is certainly a matter of public concern, the allegations made against me were timely and thoroughly vetted by independent sources and there was no such finding of wrongdoing by me or my office, Jones said in a statement Wednesday. “The decision to not communicate the entire story and publicly share the findings of the report is most unfortunate.”
It’s interesting to see how Jones move forward with her new termination, which I believe is racially motivated.