Judge rules city worker wrongfully fired by McLean

April 03, 2000|By Caitlin Francke | Caitlin Francke,SUN STAFF

Former city Comptroller Jacqueline F. McLean wrongfully fired her former assistant because he was a white male, a Baltimore jury has found.

The civil jury in U.S. District Court decided late Thursday that Erwin A. Burtnick was the victim of racial discrimination when he was ousted in 1992. Burtnick wants his job back and compensation for lost wages.

What the 26-year employee will receive from the city is expected to be determined by a judge in the next two weeks.

The suit named McLean and city government as defendants. Documents filed by Burtnick's attorney allege that McLean essentially purged the comptroller's office of most top-seated white men when she took office in 1991.

"It was McLean's policy to give preference to minorities and females over `white males' in upper echelon employment positions in the Department of the Comptroller," the plaintiff's documents state.

Burtnick was hired by the city in 1966 in the Department of Public Welfare and then moved to the Department of Audits, the documents say. In 1989, under a reorganization of the office, he was appointed assistant comptroller.

When McLean came into office, she abolished the position, along with two others held by white men. Burtnick's suit alleges that he was never rehired after his position was eliminated, though he was entitled to because his job ended through no fault of his own.

McLean pleaded guilty in September 1994 to stealing more than $25,000 in public funds by hiring a fictitious employee and research group. She also was found guilty of misconduct for voting on a city lease for a family-owned building.

She received a suspended prison sentence, was placed on probation and ordered to perform community service.

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