A lawsuit has been enacted against the City of Adrian, its mayor, and council. The suit was filed August 6, 2021 on behalf of former city clerk Stephanie Jean by her attorney, C. Brian Jarrard of Jarrard Law Group from Macon. She is seeking $300,000 in response to numerous accusations as reported in the legal documents provided to Adrian and its officials.
These documents have effectively been turned over to the state and federal equal employment opportunity commissions.
Jean’s lawyer contends that she was “libeled, slandered, wrongfully terminated, discriminated against, and otherwise subjected to a hostile work environment and mistreatment that culminated in her improper termination with the City of Adrian.”
The former clerk became employed by the city as clerk in 2018. In late 2020, she was placed on administrative leave with pay.
She was fired by Adrian City Council on February 8, 2021 by a 3-2 vote. Councilperson Suzanne Hutchinson made the motion, and Michelle Love seconded. Those two council members voted in favor, along with Julie Griffin. Opposing the move were Jesse Yawn and Ed Brown.
During The Chronicle’s initial reporting on the state of Jean’s employment back in January 2021, Adrian mayor Wynola Smith cited alleged “misappropriating funds” as the reason for the leave of absence, ultimately deferring to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. Jean, on the other hand, stated to The Chronicle at that same time that she and Smith have had a troubled history since the beginning of the mayor’s tenure. The Chronicle immediately reached out to GBI agent Kendall Reece for clarity, to no avail.
Little information about the situation has been available from any source, and information remains limited today. All parties involved have opted not to speak on the record due to potentially damaging the case.
During Adrian’s February council meeting, Love stated in open session that paperwork was to be filed later that week with the district attorney’s office. With the latest developments (the serving of the suit’s paperwork to the city), The Chronicle reached out to District Attorney Tripp Fitzner on Tuesday, August 24, to inquire about whether or not his office had received any paperwork connected to Jean. He confirmed at that time an outstanding criminal case exists, “probably some version of theft” in nature, but it has not been presented to the grand jury yet. Fitzner stressed during the phone call that he was not validating the charges or substantiating innocence or guilt; instead, he was only confirming that a case involving Jean exists within his office.
This is a developing story. As such, The Chronicle will continue to follow the matter and report accordingly.