Jefferson County Bids for Release From HR Consent Decree

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Solomon Crenshaw Jr., BirminghamWatch

Jefferson County Attorney Theo Lawson

A motion filed just before the close of business Tuesday could end 45 years of scrutiny for Jefferson County.

County attorney Theo Lawson filed a joint motion that Jefferson County be removed from its consent decree, stating that the county not only complies with but in many cases exceeds the requirements of federal law regarding recruitment, hiring and promotion of qualified individuals.

Lawson called this a great day for the county.

“As a member of the African American community, I take deep pride in reaching this milestone,” he said. “I’ve witnessed the county turn a page in its history where hiring practices that were once inconsistent, arbitrary, biased and adversely impacted African Americans and women, have now been rectified.”

County manager Tony Petelos said Jefferson County has come a long way.

“We could not have done it without the support of the commissioners, both present and past, and of course with the leadership from Theo Lawson and his office,” Petelos said. “We have assembled a great team and it would be great to get out from under this cloud.”

The County filed its motion at 4:39 p.m. Tuesday jointly with plaintiff’s, intervenors and the Department of Justice. A statement from the county said that if the motion is granted by the court, it would end one of the longest-running consent decree cases in the country.

Jefferson County entered the decree on Dec. 29, 1982.

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