February 17, 2018

Atlanta Library Director Charges Discrimination

By LJ Staff

The beleaguered director of the Atlanta-Fulton Public Library, Mary Kaye Hooker, has filed a complaint with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission claiming “race discrimination, retaliation and harassment by the board of trustees and other officials of the library system.” Hooker, who is white, was one of four defendants found liable for discrimination against four white librarians, a case ultimately settled for $18 million. More recently, in response to an audit in which staff complained she has to a “tendency to lead through fear, threats, and intimidation,” the library board of trustees on February 11 ordered her to undergo management and sensitivity training. Hooker, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, filed the complaint that same day.

Hooker’s complaint, the newspaper said, blamed both the board and her former deputy director, Carolyn Garnes, an African-American, who has since retired. The complaint said Hooker tried to stop Garnes from her “open hostility toward Caucasians, including me.” Garnes was considered an ally of William McClure, the former board chair who also was one of the four defendants found liable. “This saddens me,” Garnes told the newspaper. “I gave 30 years of my life to make things better. Most people know the bottleneck is at the top.”