Unless it settles soon, Peachtree City is facing a lawsuit in an EEOC suit filed by one of its employees.
In February 2011 an EEOC complaint was filed by city employee Lisa Ficalore against police chief H.C. “Skip” Clark on grounds of discrimination due to gender and disabilities. Since that time, two amendments have been filed to the original charge.
EEOC case filings include Ficalore’s allegations of being subject to a hostile work environment, being denied training and having her performance evaluation scores lowered. Buckley filed an additional charge on Ficalore’s behalf saying the elimination of her full-time position at City Hall, and the attendant benefits, was retaliation for the EEOC claims, since hers was the only position eliminated that was already filled. Ficalore’s full time position becomes part time on June 1.
Ficalore was administrative assistant to former police chief James V. Murray. She alleges that Clark demoted her and cut her pay in October 2008 by reclassifying her position from administrative assistant to staff assistant.
She also said that though, in previous years, she had consistently received outstanding scores on her evaluations, in October 2009 the scores changed to consistent mid-range scores. Ficalore also alleged that between October and December 2010, she received three different evaluations prior to her final evaluation, which was done two months late. She also charged that Clark was harassing her witnesses in the case.
In April of 2012, Atlanta EEOC director Bernice Williams-Kimbrough notified Clark in a letter that this notification was a cease and desist request from ‘engaging in any conduct that would hamper, impede or affect” the outcome of the EEOC investigation and the commission “has reason to believe that you may be engaging in conduct which has the effect of controlling or intimidating witnesses who could be required to testify during (the) investigation. Any attempt to intimidate, coerce or retaliate against witnesses or otherwise affect witness testimony in an ongoing investigation is strictly prohibited.”
In Clark’s defense, 14 lieutenants and sargeants signed a letter of support.
“The supervisors of the Peachtree City Police Department would like to take this opportunity to express a Statement of Confidence in regards to our loyalty and dedication to the leadership of Chief H.C. ‘Skip’ Clark, II. Since Chief Clark’s appointment in 2008, the quality of police services provided to the citizens of Peachtree City, and the quality of the work environment of the Peachtree City Police Department, have increased exponentially.”
Buckley’s last filing on Ficalore’s behalf, in August, indicates that since her last amended complaint, she has been “retaliated against repeatedly” to the point that she has suffered adverse employment actions and a hostile work environment.
Ficalore contends that since her position as Customer Service Representative II was eliminated in violation of city policy, reducing her hours, pay and eliminating her eligibility for pension and benefits, she applied for the position of Deputy Court Clerk, a full time position for which she was well-qualified and had the necessary certifications.
According to the recent EEOC finding, Ficalore was right.
“The evidence reveals that the Chief of Police openly discussed..[Ficalore’s] disabilty, his frustration with [Ficalore] because of her disability and his desire to discharge her on the basis of medical leave for her disability.”
Bernice Williams-Kimbrough, the director of the Atlanta office of the EEOC, also noted stated that Ficalore was “often singled-out” for retaliatory reaons, thus creating a hostile work environment.”
Additionally, the evidence shows that Ficalore’s co-workers were threatened and intimidated by Clark when they supported Ficalore’s allegations of disability discrimination and unlawful retaliation.
Williams-Kimbrough concluded that Ficalore was “discriminated against because of her disability and protected complaints of discrimination in violation of the ADA and Title VII. No determinations were made on any other allegations.
“Upon finding that there is reason to believe that violations have occurred, the commission attempts to eliminate the alleged unlawful practices by informal methods of conciliation.”
The EEOC urged both parties to work together to settle the dispute, but according to Ficalore, that hasn’t happened and the city is not agreeing to the monetary demand of $950,000 sent by her attorney,up $150,000 from the original figure.