Aide Accuses Annapolis Of Bias

July 16, 2009|By Nicole Fuller | Nicole Fuller,nicole.fuller@baltsun.com

An Annapolis municipal employee who oversees the city's minority and small business outreach has filed a $1 million lawsuit against the city alleging she is the victim of sexual harassment and racial discrimination at the hands of her supervisor.

Ruby Singleton Blakeney, the city's director of small and minority business enterprise, said that her direct supervisor, Mike Miron, director of economic affairs, has engaged in "petty, retaliatory behavior" since she filed the suit in federal court in Baltimore.

Blakeney, who is African-American, alleges that Mayor Ellen O. Moyer has refused to put an end to the harassment and has "turned a blind eye." Blakeney also says that the mayor's male companion, Dale Maddox, placed his hand under Blakeney's blouse at a public event and separately referred to Blakeney as "Aunt Jemima," according to the suit.

Rhonda Wardlaw, the mayor's spokeswoman, declined to comment, citing the pending litigation. But the city has moved to dismiss the case on grounds that Blakeney missed the filing deadline and said in court papers there is a $300,000 cap on damages. Blakeney's attorney, Neil E. Duke, did not respond to a call requesting comment.

"It's very painful because I've just never experienced something like this in what's supposed to be a professional setting," Blakeney said in an interview. "He has meetings that he never includes me in. It's really challenging. He doesn't speak to me. It's really put me in a state of depression."

According to the suit, on three separate work-related outings in September 2006 at local restaurants, Miron commented that Blakeney would not have been able to dine at the restaurant in the past because she is black, comments that the lawsuit alleges were "meant to demean and taunt" her.

When Blakeney complained to the city's office of human resources, the lawsuit alleges, Miron retaliated by monitoring Blakeney's attendance and "micro-managing her schedule."

Blakeney also filed a complaint with the EEOC in 2007, which was dismissed. Blakeney first filed the lawsuit herself in November 2008, but hired a lawyer and amended it last month.

"The mayor could have nipped this in the bud a long time ago," Blakeney said. "She totally ignored anything I said to her. I didn't want to expose this, but it gets to a point where I can't allow them to abuse me as they have been doing. All I want to do is my work."

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