In a ruling that exemplifies the progress made by the Macon Water Authority (MWA) toward a diverse workforce, the U.S. District Court of Middle Georgia lifted a Consent Decree that had been placed on the Authority more than 20 years ago.
The lifting of the Decree comes as a result of the Authority creating a workforce that better reflects the population of Macon and Bibb County.
The case of Vincent N. Jones et al. vs. Ed Wilson et al., Civil Action No. 78-149-MAC was filed in U.S. District Court on August 15, 1978 as a class action lawsuit. Among other things, the plaintiffs claimed that they had been deprived of certain Constitutional rights under color of state law and that they had been discriminated against on the basis of race in the terms and conditions of their employment; This would be in violation of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
After the original case was tried in August of 1980, Judge Wilbur D. Owens, Jr., ruled on the merits of the various claims in March of 1981. Without admitting wrongdoing, the parties entered into a Consent Order and Decree that was designed to remedy past discrimination and to assure the fair treatment of all employees in promotions, pay, and other terms of employment. As a part of the Consent Decree, the MWA was then required to maintain a work force that reflected the black population in Bibb County in all pay levels, which the Authority has now achieved, according to this latest ruling.
The Authority moved for dissolution of the decree on November 21, 2002 on three grounds: that it had complied with the Decree, that the objectives of the Decree have been achieved to the extent allowed by current law, and that the goals required by the original Decree are now illegal.
Further, the Authority's position, upheld in this most recent Court ruling, is that there is no evidence of discrimination at the present time. The ruling also confirms that the MWA has met its obligation to the original members of the class action suit and that various measures are in place to prevent discrimination against employees in the future.