Fired worker alleges racial discrimination

October 17, 1996|By Edward Lee | Edward Lee,SUN STAFF

A man fired by a county nonprofit development agency in August has accused his former employers of racial discrimination and wants the executive director and president of the board of directors removed.

Baron J. Bell announced yesterday that he had filed formal complaints that same month with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission before he was fired from his $32,000-a-year job as a projects planner for Arundel Community Development Services, Inc. (ACDS)

"My professional character has been maliciously attacked, and falsehoods have been heaped upon me," Bell said at a news conference at Asbury United Methodist Church on West Street in Annapolis. "It is only my desire to be treated equally and with respect."

But Charles S. Fax, a Baltimore lawyer representing ACDS, called the charges "ludicrous."

"Arundel Community Development Services is dismayed to learn that Baron Bell has publicized these baseless charges of racial discrimination against the agency," said Fax. "There was no employment discrimination against Mr. Bell."

Bell, who began working for the agency in January 1994, alleges that executive director Kathleen M. Koch shouted at him, cursed him and unfairly removed him from a project in May.

G. Rico McGowan, Bell's lawyer, said Koch was upset that Bell, the only African-American planner in the agency, and another employee had arranged a meeting in May with two county officials to discuss ways to obtain resources to clean up Bacontown, a community near Laurel. When she learned of the meeting, Koch ordered Bell not to attend, he said.

McGowan said that when Bell tried to talk to Hans Mayer, the president of the board of directors, about his problems at work, Mayer "interrogated" Bell and dismissed the complaint.

McGowan said working conditions worsened after his client filed grievances with the federal agencies.

"From that point on, we contend that Baron was fired in retaliation for filing the complaints," McGowan said. "We are asking for the removal of Kathleen Koch and Hans Mayer."

But Fax said Bell acted "unprofessionally" in the office and refused to listen to instructions.

Pub Date: 10/17/96

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