“Audemus jura nostra defendere” – “We Dare Defend Our Rights.”
That's the motto for the state of Alabama.
One Mobile County man is demanding compensation after he said he was punished for trying to uphold the state's motto – "We Dare Defend Our Rights."
However, one Mobile County man said he was punished for doing just that, and now he wants compensation.
Beau Doolittle filed a complaint in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Alabama against the Alabama Department of Human Resources (DHR) and Mobile County DHR Director Stephanie Streeter.
"I was subjected to the vindictive and punitive management of Commissioner [Nancy] Buckner and her underlings including Mobile County DHR Director Stephanie Streeter, faced illegal discrimination based on my race, gender and disability and was ultimately terminated for 'daring to defend my rights' as a citizen and employee as the State of Alabama," Doolittle told 1819 News.
Doolittle was employed with Mobile County DHR in 2009 and worked in the Food Assistance division. He suffers from anxiety and depression, which are qualified disabilities under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). After the death of a co-worker, Doolittle, he said his depression worsened, and he began suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). However, he said alerting his director ended in his termination from DHR.
"I wrote letters to DHR about the grievance situation because I was exposed to COVID and had to be off for a couple of days and not only was I not paid but also they didn't pay me for that period," Doolittle said. "I also filed for accommodations while I was under the care of a doctor and they denied that. Based on my response, which I said, 'Don't piss on my back and tell me it's raining' – I apologized for my language – but Stephanie Streeter said I used profane and vulgar language and they placed me on leave without pay."
The email also stated, "As I've said before, every year at Christmas, Gov. Ivey, Nancy Buckner and Stephanie Streeter send us cards with platitudes about how much we are appreciated for our dedication, loyalty and hard work. The other 364 days a year, their indifference to our welfare and lack of respect for us sends another message which I shall simply abbreviate as 'F.U.' We deserve better."
Doolittle was then ordered to undergo a mental evaluation and a fitness for duty evaluation, which he couldn't afford. DHR eventually paid for the evaluations, and he said he passed them but was still offered a severance that did not include his pension and benefits.
Doolittle said another employee of Mobile County DHR was arrested twice for domestic violence and disorderly conduct and was not disciplined. He said that and other incidents made him feel he was being discriminated against because he was a white male.
"At least three other black female supervisors in the Mobile County DHR Food Stamp Program had arrests while employed by DHR, yet were apparently never investigated or disciplined," Doolittle said. "It is clear that Mobile County DHR Director Stephanie Streeter discriminated against me based on my race, gender and her prejudices about medical condition which are all clearly illegal."
"Ms. Streeter is a black female. I don't think it is a coincidence that this happened just a few months after January 6, 2021. Her actions taken against me as a white male under the guise that I was a 'safety concern' while simultaneously treating a similarly situated black female who was actually arrested for violent and threatening behavior more favorably, clearly show a pattern of discrimination."
After being fired, Doolittle said his co-workers supported him after they witnessed what occurred. They wrote a character reference letter stating Doolittle was a valuable asset to his co-workers and to the state.
Doolittle believes all of the issues DHR is facing, whether it be employees, former employees, local leadership, social worker shortages, foster home challenges or any issue that impacts children in the state, start at the top.
"Personnel decisions affect the staffing levels of Alabama DHR in terms of both quality and quantity," Doolittle stated. "On a daily basis they may not be noticed or of concern to the general public, however, when they are it is often with tragic results such as the recent case in Mobile County where a woman in Semmes killed her two children and then herself."
The seven-count lawsuit filed by Doolittle seeks injunctive and equitable relief, compensatory damages, punitive damages, court costs, and attorneys' fees.
Doolittle told 1819 News he hoped state leaders would hear his story and others' stories.
"I believe that the citizens of the state of Alabama have a right to know what is going on with DHR," he added. "I hope that will lead to pressure on Gov. Ivey to make changes."
The Mobile County DHR office declined to comment. 1819 News is awaiting a response from the Alabama Department of Human Resources.
The lawsuit is one of several filed against DHR. An open letter was sent to Gov. Kay Ivey concerning issues former and current employees say they have experienced. Her office responded with support for Commissioner Nancy Buckner.
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