According to Fleming’s letter, Register was leading the “raffle portion” of the event when he allegedly referred to aquatics manager Jim Cyrus, who is black, as “still the HNIC.” He used only the letters in the initialism, which often stands for “head [slur] in charge.”
“Several” staff members heard what Fleming described in her letter as a reference to a “derogatory racial slur,” and at least four later complained to their supervisors.
“Your behavior reflected unfavorably, not only on this Department, but on the County as an employer,” Fleming wrote. “While your comments may not have been intended to be offensive, they in fact were as evidenced by complaints received thereafter.”
Register is serving his suspension this week and is not receiving pay, Gwinnett spokesman Joe Sorenson said. Register is not a merit employee so “there will not be any kind of hearings regarding the matter,” Sorenson said.
“Mr. Register, it is critical that all of our employees adhere to the policies and guidelines relating to non-discriminatory practices,” Fleming wrote in her letter. “
Attempts to contact Register were not successful Wednesday.
In January, county Commissioner Tommy Hunter sparked uproar — and triggered an ethics complaint and a formal public reprimand — after writing a Facebook post calling civil rights leader and U.S. Rep. John Lewis a "racist pig."
Less than three months later, two white Gwinnett County police officers were fired and arrested after cellphone videos shot by bystanders showed them kicking and striking a black motorist during a traffic stop.
In August, part-time Gwinnett County Magistrate Judge Jim Hinkle resigned after The Atlanta Journal-Constitution exposed Facebook posts in which he compared Confederate monument protesters to terrorists and shared other anti-Islamic thoughts.
Gwinnett County has never had a non-white member on its Board of Commissioners or Board of Education, a fact highlighted in an ongoing federal lawsuit that alleges the way the districts are drawn dilutes minority voting strength.
Gwinnett County Administrator Glenn Stephens said Wednesday that “each of [the county’s] nearly 5,000 employees have the opportunity on a daily basis to demonstrate to our diverse community that race is irrelevant to the services provided by this organization.”
“We likewise have a strong track record of dealing appropriately and expeditiously with behavior that is found to be a violation of our ordinances or policies,” Stephens said in an emailed statement. “Our management team has done just that in this situation.”
Attempts to contact Cyrus, the man Register referred to, were also unsuccessful. But it appeared he may not have been too offended by his colleague’s remark.
The public version of Register’s Facebook page showed several interactions between him and Cyrus — including one three days after the incident in which Cyrus posted an image on Register’s wall.
“You know that little thing inside your head that keeps you from saying things you shouldn’t?” the image said. “Yeah, I don’t have one of those.”
The post appeared to have been deleted after initial media reports about Register’s suspension.
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