LA PLATA, Md. – On Thursday, September 21, 2023 Prince George’s County Circuit Court Judge Leo E. Green Jr. ruled that Charles County Commissioner Thomasina O. Coates can no longer have the decision to determine the job status of the county administrator.
This ruling ends a nearly nine-month case that cost Maryland taxpayers over $1.35 million.
This lawsuit came about after a December 2022 closed session of Charles County Board of County Commissioners. During this session, Coates along with Commissioners Ralph E. Patterson and Reuben B. Collins II attempted a vote to fire County Administrator Mark Belton. This action came after it was revealed that Coates had made derogatory and racially insensitive comments about Belton.
A 27-page report compiled by Stinson LLP partner Bernadette Sargent detailed the hostile work environment that Coates had created. Belton had reported the situation to Alexis Blackwell, the Charles County Government HR Director.
The commissioners voted 4-1 in a closed session to officially censure Coates and deny her any contact with Belton.
The order is to remain in place as long as Coates is in office, as per the ruling by Judge Green.
“Today was a win for all of our citizens and hopefully the end of a costly court battle,” said Commissioner Gilbert “BJ” Bowling on social media.
In an email to her supporters, Coates stated, “The judge’s decision to move to a final injunction ruling instead of a preliminary injunction ruling was both surprising and disappointing. It essentially permanently prohibits my ever having input into the employment status of an at-will employee hired by the board of commissioners, which of course includes me.”
“It isn’t a win for the residents and taxpayers of the county. Today my attorneys have filed a motion for reconsideration.”
Belton has been on leave since January, when the lawsuit over his job first began.
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