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Jesse Ross sues Greenwood Utilities for racial discrimination

Friday, December 14, 2012, 2:11 pm News Flash Archive

On December 12, Jesse Ross filed a federal lawsuit against the Greenwood Utilities alleging racial discrimination. He is represented by Lisa Ross of Jackson.

Mr. Ross, who was vice president of engineering and construction at the utility, applied for the job of CEO. In his suit, he claims that the utility board, composed of Annie Washington, James Quinn, and Tommy Gary, refused to promote him to the position of CEO because he is black.

He claims that he applied for the open position in August 2010, but that the board refused to interview him for it. In February 2012, according to the lawsuit, the board voted 2-1 to hire Brian Finnegan, who is white. Ross claims that Annie Washington, the sole black member of the board, voted against hiring Finnegan.

Ross also claims that James Quinn vowed that the Utility will never hire a black to serve as its CEO.

Ross claims that soon after Finnegan was installed as CEO, he began to receive negative feedback from him about his job performance. Ross claims that "from the time that he [Finnegan] arrived at Greenwood Utilities, the white chief executive officer ridiculed Jesse L. Ross, Jr.'s job performance, wrote a false report concerning Jesse L. Ross, Jr.'s job performance, talked down to him and tried to frustrate him at every opportunity."

Ross claims that on May 18, 2012, Finnegan placed him on six month probation with a threat of termination. Ross says he was forced to resign due to the "intolerable" working conditions at the utility.

Ross is claiming that because of this racial discrimination and animus, he has suffered loss of opportunities for career advancement, loss of wages and benefits, deep pain, humiliation, anxiety, and emotional distress. He is asking for actual damages, punitive damages, and attorney fees and costs.

The lawsuit may be viewed here: Ross v. Greenwood Utilities Complaint

Readers may recall that Mr. Ross was heavily involved in county and city Democrat Executive Committee activities over the past decade. He was the head of one of the dueling factions in the Ratliff-Brown election contest, in which he and fellow utility manager Larry Griggs both claimed to be the chairman of the Leflore County Democrat Executive Committee, with each faction making conflicting rulings in the election contest filed by Mr. Ratliff.

Readers may also recall Mr. Ross's conduct during the election contest between George Ellis and David Jordan in 2005. Jordan supposedly won the primary by one vote, but after investigation, it turned out that one vote was already recorded on one of the voting machines, before the start of the election.

Even though state law requires that votes on the machine before the start of the election must be subtracted from the final vote total, neither the election workers, nor the Democrat committee, nor Mr. Ross, would do so. During the court contest, Mr. Ross testified under oath that the vote at the start of the day should not be deducted from the total count at the end of the day.

The judge ruled otherwise and threw out the primary results, ordering a new one to be held.

John Pittman Hey
The Taxpayers Channel

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