Vernon Jones Quits Interview After Being Asked About His Discrimination Against White Employees

Stew Peters questions Vernon Jones about racial discrimination lawsuit. Credit: StewPeters.tv

A discrimination lawsuit appears to be coming back to haunt former Democratic state Rep. Vernon Jones, who has mounted a primary challenge against Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp.

Jones, who was successfully sued for discriminating against white employees when he was DeKalb county’s CEO, quit a recent interview with conservative commentator Stew Peters when questions about the lawsuit were raised.

After Peters brought up the lawsuit, Jones shot back:

“It’s completely false. It’s erroneous, it’s reckless. And that’s why I just said, when you try to be holier than thou, that ‘oh, you’re different from everybody else.’ No, you’re not.”

He continued, “You’re here with a bunch of foolishness. Now let’s get to the next question.”

Jones attempted to change the subject to immigration and the Arizona audit, but Peters did not allow him to deflect. “You’re not going to avoid the real questions here,” he said.

The former state rep continued talking over Peters, appearing to try to stifle conversation on the legal action. The host eventually muted Jones and said:

“And you’re accusing me of being foolish. If there was shocking evidence of an overt and unabashed pattern of discrimination in your administration –“

At this point, Vernon Jones cut his feed and quit the interview.

After Jones left, Peters said:

“That’s what bullies do. They gaslight, shout you down, lie incessantly, avoid the light of truth from being shined on their dark corruption.

And he didn’t want me to get to the facts. He knew what was coming, so I had to mute him, and he bailed.”

The lawsuit to which Peters was referring claimed Jones “orchestrated a scheme to replace three top, white managers in the parks department with blacks,” according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, which reported:

In the culmination of a case that wound through the courts for six years, the jurors found that former DeKalb CEO Vernon Jones, Jones’ former executive assistant, Richard Stogner, former parks director Marilyn Boyd Drew and DeKalb County itself were all liable for damages.

The report also noted:

The damages were awarded to only two of the plaintiffs: Michael Bryant, who died in February, and John Drake, both former deputy directors of the parks department.

The verdict came after a jury of six – five white and one black – decided Jones had practiced racial discrimination while serving as CEO of DeKalb county.

Jones vehemently denied the allegations during the trial, insisting he “wanted the best and the brightest” workers. He continued:

That meant blacks, whites, Asians, Latinos, Republicans, Democrats, Independents, gay, straight, anybody who wanted to work for DeKalb County.”

Jones did acknowledge that white employees believed he wished to replace them with black employees.

The trial began in August 2004. The plaintiff’s attorneys questioned witnesses about the matter to demonstrate there was a plan to discriminate against white employees.

Testimony revealed there were 33 black and 61 white, high-level managers in the county when Jones took office in January 2001. By August 2005, there were 60 black and 57 white, high-level county managers.

The jurors heard a recorded call between Assistant County Manager Morris Williams and Joe Stone, who headed the county’s human resources department. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported:

At the time of their March 25, 2003, phone conversation, neither Williams nor Stone was aware that one of them had inadvertently allowed their conversation to be recorded on the voice mail system of another county employee.

The employee gave the recording to J. Tom Morgan, the county’s former district attorney, who eventually represented the plaintiffs.

In the call, Stone expressed anger that the county’s new fire chief wished to promote four, white firemen to the rank of battalion chief.

“He wants to pick ‘em from a population that is solid snow white already,” he said. “Now he got to cut that [expletive] out with Vernon. … He told David Foster not to — we don’t promote anybody until you figure out how you can fix this problem.”

The suit was filed by three white employees and one black employee. Daily Citizen-News reported in 2006:

The suit was filed by three whites — Becky Kelley, Michael Bryant and John Drake — and one black, Herbert Lowe, who says he was fired because he would not discriminate against white managers.

Kelley, who had been working as parks director for nine years before Jones took office, said Williams told her Jones would not hire a white candidate for deputy director. Richard Stogner, who was Jones’ executive assistant, suggested that she offer the position to Marilyn Boyd Drew, a black woman and the former head of the parks department. Stogner and Drew were also defendants in the trial and were also found to have “created and maintained a hostile work environment.”

A year later, Jones replaced Kelley with Drew in a restructuring of the staff. She later resigned in 2002. From Daily Citizen-News:

Kelley, Bryant and Drake claim their job responsibilities were greatly reduced and they were intentionally kept out of the loop on hiring and other department issues. [Herbert] Lowe said Drew told him to withhold information from white employees so they would appear to be incompetent.

Lowe also said he was told by Jones, Stone and Drew that the CEO’s plan was to increase the park department’s number of black managers by removing white managers.

In June, former President Donald Trump asked Jones to challenge Gov. Kemp for the governorship. He announced his candidacy less than a week later.

Stew Peters’ interview was the first time Jones’ legal issues came to light in conservative media. While the former Democrat has enjoyed much support on the right – especially after being boosted by Trump – it could be possible that this news could damage his chances of replacing Kemp in the primaries. Jones has not discussed the lawsuit publicly since announcing his run, but it is doubtful that he will be able to avoid the issue for much longer.