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Talbot ordered to act against race bigotry


A federal judge yesterday ordered Talbot County officials to develop an anti-discrimination policy and to require roads employees to undergo race relations training.

The consent decree, signed by U.S. District Judge J. Frederick Motz in Baltimore, closes a civil action filed last October by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of three black workers employed as equipment operators and laborers. The workers alleged that a supervisor placed them in segregated work crews, used racial epithets to refer to them and denied them choice assignments and overtime pay.

The court order was signed by Talbot officials, who did not admit to any wrongful acts. It also awarded undisclosed monetary damages.

County Manager Blenda W. Armistead said officials have begun developing new procedures on race relations for all 140 county employees.

Under the decree, the county has 60 days to issue a written policy to county employees and job applicants prohibiting racial discrimination, harassment and segregation. The policy also must bar officials from discriminating in job assignments and overtime pay, and contain provisions that could subject employees to dismissal for violations.

Employees and supervisors of the Roads Department will be required to receive training on race relations from a specialist. The order also establishes an employee review committee to hear racially based grievances.

Ronnie Stanford, Carlet Stanford and Kim James Gibson alleged that county officials violated the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Maryland Fair Employment Practices Act. They said Roads Department Superintendent Wilson Tull and foreman Harold Kraegenbrink, who since has resigned, had engaged in a pattern of discrimination and harassment.

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