A Prince George’s County civil jury has found that the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission discriminated against a former official who was fired, and awarded damages of $1.65 million.

The jury made the award to Allen W. Cartwright Jr., said his attorney, Timothy F. Maloney.

Cartwright, who is African-American, worked for the WSSC for six years, until he was fired in October, 2005 after he refused to accept a demotion, according to Cartwright’s lawsuit.

While working as chief of mission support, had consistently received excellent performance evaluations, according to the lawsuit. “Within the position, Mr. Cartwright led efforts to achieve a 40 plus percent Minority Business Enterprise participation, the highest level of achievement in commission history,” the lawsuit said.

In February, 2004, Cartwright was promoted to Chief of Customer Care, where he was responsible for the maintaining of WSSC infrastructure and customer services. In that post, Cartwright reduced overtime costs by $1.5 million in 2005 by introducing new internal controls, according to the lawsuit.

In September, 2005, Andrew Brunhart, general manager at the time of WSSC, asked Cartwright to accept a demotion to his old job as Chief of Mission Support. Brunhart said he wanted someone with an engineering background to be Chief of Customer Care, the lawsuit said.

Cartwright refused, and was terminated. Brunhart then appointed someone who did not have an engineering degree, according to the lawsuit.

“The jury’s verdict has given Mr. Cartwright a deep sense of personal vindication,” said Timothy F. Maloney, one of Cartwright’s attorneys. “He was a strong performer and everyone at WSSC knew it.”

John C. White, a spokesman for WSSC, said officials had no comment regarding the verdict.
Asked whether WSSC was considering an appeal, White said, “We're considering our options.”