“Both suffered emotional distress from the way they were treated and the way their careers were temporarily derailed,” Davis said.
College Park Attorney Winston Denmark declined comment. Mayor Bianca Motley Broom’s office did not reply to a phone message from the AJC.
McCrary and Tyus are Black women and allege in their complaints that College Park allows a culture of allowing humiliation and bullying of women by male officials, including city councilmen.
McCrary wanted to become permanent police chief and says in her complaint that she was blocked from serious consideration by Motley Broom and City Council. Tyus was fired with no explanation, Davis said, during advanced stages of the hiring process for the police chief position, and after working only four months on the job.
McCrary was one of the candidates that Tyus was considering.
The timing was dubious, he said, adding that the former city manager was earning an annual salary of nearly $200,000 and had received no reprimands, criticisms or negative accusations of any kind.
“One of the things the law scrutinizes is suspicious timing,” Davis said. “That’s one of the major factors that courts look at.”
Rogers, the new police chief, is Black and has worked more than two decades in law enforcement. She served as deputy police chief in South Fulton before accepting her new position.
McCrary started in the College Park police department in 2001 as a patrol officer and rose through the ranks. She was promoted to deputy police chief in 2018 and became interim chief in September 2021.
She served in that position until late November.
McCrary says in her complaint that when she was vying for police chief she was told that she would only be considered if she agreed to be a figurehead in the position.
McCrary said that last fall a police colonel, who is White, told her “that a deal had been developed between council members that I would be selected as chief if I appointed him as deputy chief with the understanding that he would be ‘in charge’ of most major decisions. (He) would be the police department’s primary contact with the council.”
McCrary’s complaint says that later in mid-November, an official asked to serve on the final interview committee told her that she would be interviewed for the job but she “was the one candidate who could not be considered.”
Davis said the information relayed to his client was a tactic.
“They felt they couldn’t control Sharis McCrary and they made that very clear to her,” he said.
Both McCrary and Tyus said their leadership was micromanaged by city council members who also verbally diminished them in front of their staff.
McCrary is citing discrimination based on race, sex and retaliation. Tyus is citing discrimination based on sex and said that she also witnessed the badgering of other women staffers by male officials.
The former city manager noted an instance when Mayor Motley Broom was disparaged by a councilman during a meeting, and another occasion when a “female department head was told by a councilman that she was ‘stupid.’”
“While I have seen all manner of personalities in my long career in city government, overt bullying of women and clear attempts to diminish and ridicule women are not accepted or acceptable practices,” Tyus wrote in her lawsuit.