Former Fulton official files lawsuit, wants his job back

Patrick O’Connor (Fulton County)

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Patrick O’Connor (Fulton County)

A former top Fulton County administrator has filed a lawsuit that says he was improperly fired and wants his old job back.

Patrick O'Connor spent nearly two decades as the county's finance director. He was promoted to interim county manager last October, when commissioners fired then-Manager Dwight Ferrell after just a year on the job.

But the county Board of Commissioners fired O'Connor in February, offering no explanation. In a lawsuit filed Tuesday in Fulton County Superior Court, O'Connor says the board should have allowed him to return to his job as finance director.

County officials declined to discuss O’Connor’s allegations, saying they do not comment on pending litigation.

O’Connor has said he was fired because of comments he made at a meeting with South Fulton Community Improvement District officials. An audio recording of the meeting indicates O’Connor vented about commissioners and Ferrell during the meeting.

In February commission Chairman John Eaves gave no reason for firing O'Connor, saying only that the board had "made the difficult decision to terminate Mr. O'Connor's employment." In March commissioners hired Dick Anderson as county manager.

In the lawsuit, O’Connor says commissioners had the legal authority to relieve him of his duties as county manager. But, citing state law and county personnel regulations, he says they should have allowed him to return to his job as finance director. Only the county manager can hire and fire the finance director, he says.

The lawsuit accuses the county of breach of contract and seeks O’Connor’s reinstatement as finance director, plus back pay and benefits.