AJC photo: TYSON HORNE / TYSON.HORNE@AJC.COM
Photo: Tyson Horne / AJC/TYSON HORNE / TYSON.HORNE@AJC.CO
Photo: Tyson Horne / AJC/TYSON HORNE / TYSON.HORNE@AJC.CO

Former top aide sues Fulton DA, alleging gender discrimination

Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard's former deputy chief of staff has filed a federal lawsuit claiming she suffered discrimination after she announced her pregnancy.

Jasmine Younge was hired in May 2019 and was fired less than three months later. She filed the civil rights suit against her former boss on Thursday.

“As the courts frown upon public statements from litigants in civil matters, upon instruction of the county attorney, the Fulton County District Attorney’s Office will have no comment in this case,” Howard said in a statement.

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In court documents, Younge claims Howard became “highly agitated” when, on July 1, 2019, she presented paperwork confirming her pregnancy was high-risk. 

“What the hell? Is this a threat?” Howard responded, according to the lawsuit.  

Howard immediately began searching for someone to replace Younge and then “began to systematically discriminate and retaliate against (her),” the lawsuit claims.

The complaint also also claims that Howard routinely made disparaging or insensitive remarks concerning race.

“After reassigning certain duties to a white male, Howard told Dr. Younge that she should be ashamed that a ‘white boy’ had to do her work,” the suit states.

Younge is African-American.

During a meeting with Fulton County vendors, the suit claims, Howard asked whether there were any white people on staff.  

“(He) then told them they should look for white intellectuals with credentials to get more of an edge,” the suit says. 

Younge’s lawsuit claims Howard “oppressed his female employees, treated his male employees more favorably, disciplined his female employees more harshly as compared to his male employees and perpetuated a workplace environment of harassment and retaliation.”

Howard asked for Younge’s resignation on July 15, 2019, telling her she was ineffective in the role, the lawsuit says. She said she refused and was fired two weeks later.

“It’s a pretty straightforward case,” said Amanda Farahany, Younge’s attorney. Younge and her newborn are doing fine, she said. 

“She should’ve been on maternity leave,” Farahany said. “Instead she had to worry about money, on top of everything else she was facing.”

Thursday’s lawsuit comes nearly two months after another former employee of the DA’s office filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Former human resources director Tisa Grimes claimed she endured months of inappropriate comments and unwelcome physical contact from Howard, then was demoted and reassigned to another county agency because she rejected Howard’s advances. She has not filed a lawsuit. 

Howard’s attorney, Anita Wallace Thomas, has said Grimes’ allegations are without merit.  

Younge also filed an EEOC complaint, paving the way for the lawsuit. Workplace discrimination suits require a right to sue from the commission. Younge’s lawsuit doesn’t allege any sexual misconduct. 

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