Ex-prosecutor claims racial discrimination

MICHAEL BRYANT / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER D.A. Seth Williams: Suit claims he played favorites.
MICHAEL BRYANT / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER D.A. Seth Williams: Suit claims he played favorites.
Posted: May 31, 2013

A FORMER Philadelphia prosecutor who was fired two years ago for allegedly lying about an internal leak claims she was terminated because of her race.

M.K. Feeney was let go in June 2011 after working 15 years as an assistant district attorney. Feeney, who is white, claims District Attorney Seth Williams, who is black, routinely treated nonwhite employees better than white employees, according to a civil complaint filed in federal court on May 20.

In the complaint, Feeney claims that before she was fired, she was questioned about accessing the expunged criminal record of a black prosecutor - on which the Daily News reported. She claims that she and other prosecutors saw the colleague's record but that she did not access it or leak it to the media. A few weeks after being interrogated, Feeney claims, she was told she was being terminated for being "untruthful" in the interview.

According to the complaint, another prosecutor, who is black, gave the media information about the record. That prosecutor was disciplined but not fired, and was allowed to maintain his salary. The complaint says that Williams, the prosecutor who was disciplined and the prosecutor with the expunged record are all members of the same fraternity.

Feeney further claims that Williams promoted nonwhite employees into open positions over qualified white employees and waived job requirements for nonwhite employees but not for similarly situated white employees.

Tasha Jamerson, a spokeswoman for the D.A., said in a statement: "The complaint does not present a full and accurate account - either of the circumstances of Ms. Feeney's departure or of the record of the office's personnel decisions. In any organization, there will always be someone who feels aggrieved when personnel changes are made, and it is all too easy to claim nefarious motives.

"The reality is that the district attorney has actively recruited and hired from all segments of the population and has retained and promoted many white women to positions of authority - in fact, more than ever before."

The suit is seeking undisclosed damages.


On Twitter: @ChroniclesofSol

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