The former director of training and bus service management for the Capital Area Transit System sued his former employer for $900,000 on Wednesday and alleged he is a victim of reverse discrimination.
Jere T. Quinn Sr., 51, is white. He formerly worked for the Chicago Transit Authority for 27 years, the final 15 as that public bus system’s transportation and operations manager, according to his suit against CATS.
The suit was filed in Baton Rouge federal court by Quinn’s attorney, Howard P. Elliott Jr. The case is assigned to Chief U.S. District Judge Brian A. Jackson.
Quinn was hired by CATS in June 2012.
After Brian Marshall, CATS’ chief executive officer, resigned in April, Quinn was among 10 candidates who applied by May 21 to fill that top slot on at least a temporary basis. Marshall had come to Baton Rouge in 2009 from the Chicago Transit Authority.
On June 11, Quinn alleges in his suit, CATS board member Dalton Honore fired him “without warning, summarily and unjustifiably.”
Honore, now president of the CATS board, said Wednesday: “Jere Quinn did not report to me. I did not fire him.” Honore declined to comment further on the pending litigation.
Robert J. Mirabito, serving as CATS’ interim chief executive officer while the board searches for a permanent successor to Marshall, also declined to comment on the dispute Wednesday.
Mirabito, former chief information officer for the Baton Rouge Radiology Group, said he could not comment because Quinn’s departure occurred before Mirabito joined CATS.
East Baton Rouge city-parish government also is named as a defendant in Quinn’s suit, as is the state of Louisiana.
Parish Attorney Mary Roper said she could not comment on the pending litigation.
Amanda Larkins, communications director for the Louisiana Attorney General’s Office, said state officials also could not comment on Quinn’s suit.
Quinn said in his suit that several other white administrators have been fired at CATS, leaving it “an organization run and administered exclusively by African-Americans.”
When Quinn sought unemployment benefits from the Louisiana Workforce Commission, CATS opposed his application, he said in his suit.
“However, the Louisiana Department of Labor administratively determined that (Quinn) committed no misconduct in his employment and was entitled to unemployment benefits,” the suit states.
Quinn added in his suit that the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission gave him permission Aug. 8 to file his suit.
The suit occurs at a time when CATS has experienced a spate of bad publicity about its handling of public money and a transit management contract.
In July, CATS financial documents indicated that board member Montrell McCaleb used $1,484 of bus system funds to pay his phone and satellite TV bills. McCaleb denied those allegations, but resigned.
Earlier this week, Chief Financial Officer Gary Owens resigned after bus fare revenues were discovered to be short a combined $27,628 in April, May and June.
Owens said he was not involved in any theft or misappropriation of funds. He added that he resigned because the shortfall remained his responsibility because he was chief financial officer.
CATS board president Isaiah Marshall resigned in July. He was not accused of any wrongdoing but his leadership was questioned.