SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – A former employee of the Chatham County District Attorney’s Office has filed a lawsuit against the DA, in part, over claims of sex discrimination and retaliation.
The 30-page suit was filed by former assistant district attorney Burt Anthony Burton on March 21 against District Attorney Shalena Jones and former Chief Assistant District Attorney Michael Edwards.
Burton, who was fired from the district attorney’s office, has since announced he would be running for the DA seat against Jones next year.
The lawsuit alleges Burton and another employee were passed over for open positions despite the other candidate, a heterosexual male, being “far less qualified” for the roles.
Further, the defendant claims Jones made derogatory comments both in his presence and when he wasn’t present and “made cruel remarks…based on sex stereotypes and/or because of his sexual orientation.”
In the lawsuit, Burton claims he was retaliated against for contacting a government agency overseeing the DA with his concerns about the office’s “severely overspent” budget.
Burton also learned a coworker had submitted their resignation and would be leaving the office to work in Atlanta. According to the suit, he sent a text to certain members and former employees in the DA’s office about it and was fired the next day for sharing “confidential personnel information.” He claims he didn’t reveal any information that wouldn’t be subject to public disclosure.
After his firing, Burton says he began conducting his own research into the DA’s office practice of pleading down murder cases. He later posted on Facebook about a particular case Edwards was handling.
“You can murder in Chatham and you are pretty much guaranteed to have the case reduced to manslaughter,” Burton wrote, in part.
Edwards later filed a grievance with the State Bar of Georgia against Burton over the post. The move, the lawsuit alleges, was an act of retaliation “in an attempt to intimidate Mr. Burton into silence.”
Burton is seeking full back and front pay, compensation for emotional pain and suffering and punitive damages against Jones and Edwards.
WSAV reached out to Jones’ office for comment:
“Mr. Burton’s false and frivolous claims are nothing more than a desperate cry for attention to bolster his campaign because he is too weak to run on his own record,” she stated.
Jones says she chooses to leave those kinds of matters in the capable hands of her legal team while she continues to make justice and public safety her primary concern.