Berard claims discrimination in complaint
Alleging that he was discriminated against because of his race, former Chief Administrative Officer Shedrick Berard has filed a complaint against the City of St. Martinville with the Louisiana Commission on Human Rights and the state Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
The complaint, filed on Jan. 23, describes what Berard sees as an attempt by white council members to prevent his success in the CAO position.
He served in the position for six months, resigning amid reports of accounting missteps, payment errors and other problems in the city’s business office.
Berard was recommended for the promotion by Mayor Melinda Mitchell in November of 2018, to move from his position as Building and Zoning and Safety coordinator.
At the time, city auditor Burton Kolder, who administered tests to Berard and two other applicants, rated the others more qualified than Berard.
In his filing documents, Berard claims that “two white council members” worked against him by opposing his participation in a city clerk training program offered by the Louisiana Municipal Association.
Although not specifically named in the complaint, the only two white councilmen are Mike Fuselier and Craig Prosper.
They opposed Berard’s hiring and said at the time that basic clerk training would not provide the accounting knowledge the position requires and that adequate management of taxpayer funds could not be performed during a protracted period of on-the-job training.
In the complaint, Berard says the white councilmen “made things very difficult for me” and that he was humiliated in the newspapers and on television.
Berard resigned the CAO position in April 2019 and returned to his job in the Zoning/Safety office. But after receiving a three-day suspension in May, he finally resigned from city employment altogether in August.
City attorney Allan Durand Jr. has suggested to Mayor Mitchell and the council that Berard’s complaint be discussed in an executive (secret) session during the next council meeting, scheduled for Monday, Feb. 10.