March 15, 2017, Atlanta - Jay Neal, executive director of Georgia's Criminal Justice Coordinating Council, left, and Sen. Greg Kirk, right, speak on SB 1, which aims to rewrite Georgia's terrorism laws, during a House Judiciary Non-Civil Subcommittee meeting during legislative day 34 in Atlanta, Georgia, on Wednesday, March 15, 2017. (DAVID BARNES / SPECIAL)
Photo: David Barnes/DAVID BARNES / SPECIAL
Photo: David Barnes/DAVID BARNES / SPECIAL

Georgia agency manager allegedly fired because she's a black woman

A former manager for a Georgia criminal justice agency has filed a lawsuit alleging she was harassed and later fired because she's an African-American woman.

The federal lawsuit said Jay Neal, the executive director for the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council, targeted former Division Director Nicole Jenkins.

The Criminal Justice Coordinating Council on Friday denied the allegations made in the lawsuit.

Jenkins' lawsuit said she was falsely accused of exposing her staff to bullying, and she was compared to a domestic violence batterer. 

Jenkins was replaced in meetings with male employees, forced to submit paperwork that wasn't required of her white colleagues and abruptly fired in June 2017, the lawsuit said.

"It's very clear there was a struggle and difficulty with having an African-American woman in that position of power,” said Jenkins' attorney, Adian Miller. “She was treated differently, and there was no legitimate reason for it other than race or gender.”

The Criminal Justice Coordinating Council is responsible for conducting research, developing policy proposals and advising the governor.

“CJCC treats all of its employees with respect at all times,” spokeswoman Samantha Wolf said. “While we cannot make any specific comments regarding pending litigation, we were disheartened to see the unfounded allegations in the lawsuit.”

Neal, a former Republican state legislator, didn't return messages seeking comment.

Jenkins is seeking back pay and other monetary damages from a federal jury.

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