Rockdale Community Affairs director Fatima resigns

Erica Fatima, director of Rockdale County’s Department of Community Affairs and Innovative Programs, will resign from her post effective next week, according to an announcement released Wednesday by the county government.

Rockdale County Chief of Staff Greg Pridgeon said in an email announcement that Fatima’s last day will be Oct. 6. Prigdeon will oversee the department after Fatima’s departure.

Pridgeon’s announcement said Rockdale County Commission Chairman Richard Oden accepted Fatima’s resignation, thanked her for her work and wished her well with future endeavors.

No reason was given for Fatima’s resignation. Pridgeon declined to offer a reason for the resignation but said there was no violation of county policy that led to Fatima’s depature,

In her resignation letter, dated Sept. 22, Fatima said it would serve as her two week notice and henceforth she would “work remotely and remain available during operating business hours.”

“The experience has been both rewarding and strengthening,” she wrote. “This letter serves as my two week notice, as I believe this decision is mutually beneficial.”

A call to Fatima Wednesday was not returned.

Fatima’s tenure as director of the Department of Community Affairs and Media Relations began under difficult circumstances. She was one of three finalists when she was selected in April 2010 by Rockdale County Commission Chairman Richard Oden. Her appointment was delayed when commissioners JaNice Van Ness and Oz Nesbitt declined to approve Fatima’s hiring because they complained of being left out of the hiring process.

Fatima succeeded interim director Holly Lafontaine, who was a finalist and had worked at the county for 16 years. Accusations of racial discrimination were discussed openly by the public. Citizens complained that Lafontaine, who is white, was unfairly looked over in favor of Fatima, who is black.

Lafontaine filed a complaint with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission alleging she was overlooked for the position because of racial considerations.

In July 2010, the county government underwent a workforce reduction to balance the general fund budget and Lafontaine was among the those who lost their jobs. Lafontaine added retaliation allegation to her initial EEOC filing concerning her release as part of a county work force reduction.

Correction, Oct. 18, 2011: The original story was revised to report Lafontaine filed her EEOC complaint first after being passed over for the director's position. She later revised the filing to include retaliation after she was released during a county work force reduction. The Citizen regrets the error.