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Posted about 6 years ago
By Ashley Hungerford
MARIETTA, GA - A federal jury awarded a former Cobb 911 call-center operator $2,414 for lost wages after the employee sued Cobb County, claiming she was punished and retaliated against for pointing out staffing problems. Her lawyer had asked for $605,000.
Stacey Tatroe, a former 911 call center operator, filed the lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia in April 2004 against Cobb County and several employees of Cobb's 911 center.
"The bottom line is we're thrilled," said Ms. Tatroe's attorney, Harlan Miller. "This has been a long fight, and we're thrilled the jury saw the truth."
Judge William Duffey presided over the four-day trial. The eight-member jury was unanimous in its decision, Miller said.
The original defendants were Cobb County; Tony Wheeler, manager of Cobb 911 center; Ann Flynn, assistant manager of Cobb 911 center; and Bonnie Rogers, internal affairs investigator in the Cobb 911 center.
George Weaver, of the Atlanta employment and labor law firm of Holberg and Weaver, represented Cobb in the suit. Before the trial, Duffey dismissed all the defendants except Wheeler and dismissed seven of Ms. Tatroe's 13 claims, he said.
"The jury vindicated the defendants," he said, by only awarding lost wages for the overtime she said she was not allowed to work in 2003 and 2004.
Miller said he wished the jury would have awarded his client more money, "but money wasn't the objective of the lawsuit. It's about your right to speak up."
He said he felt the jury took sympathy on Wheeler, who he said the defense painted as an American hero who returned to work at Cobb 911 center in August 2003 after serving in Afghanistan.
"If the county had still been a listed defendant, you would have seen a verdict closer to what I asked," he said.
On Jan. 20, 2003, Ms. Tatroe mailed a letter to then-Cobb Commissioner Woody Thompson expressing concerns about an alleged shortage of employees in Cobb's 911 center after the elimination of seven part-time operator positions.
"This manpower shortage has Cobb County on a collision course with tragedy, resulting in a lawsuit or lawsuits," she wrote.
The letter was also sent to other Cobb and local municipal public safety officials including the defendants Ms. Flynn and Ms. Rogers.
Ms. Tatroe, who had worked at the 911 center since November 1996, said county management punished her for sending the letter, using what her lawyer said were "false allegations of misconduct," and by changing her shifts and limiting overtime.
She left her job in October 2004, shortly after filing the lawsuit.
Weaver, the county's attorney, said: "To call this a result in her favor is a mischaracterization," he said. "It's really a defense result … if it was not for the money, why did they ask for $605,000?"
Miller said he planned to appeal.
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| Posted over 4 years ago
I have seen this type of HIDIOUS behavior from employers
I'm VERY glad to hear that she was able to get someone