A former administrative assistant with the Peachtree City Police Department has been awarded $300,000 in a settlement of her sex and disability discrimination case against the city and Police Chief H.C. “Skip” Clark.
The settlement for Lisa Ficalore includes $5,000 in back pay awarded by a vote of the City Council Thursday night and $300,000 that is being paid by the city’s risk management carrier, the Georgia Interlocal Risk Management Agency (GIRMA).
Ficalore’s lawsuit claimed that Chief Clark intimidated two high-ranking officers in the department during the course of an investigation by the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and the EEOC would later issue an order for Clark to cease and desist such conduct.
City Attorney Ted Meeker said the settlement decision by GIRMA was “purely financial” and was due in part for “having to litigate almost every employment decision made over the course of the last two and a half years.”
The city’s investigation into Ficalore’s complaints, Meeker said, determined that none had merit “with one possible exception involving a promotional decision by the then-court clerk.”
Ficalore’s lawsuit contended she was passed over for a promotion to deputy court clerk after the city’s court clerk at the time said Ficalore should not be promoted because Ficalore might have difficulty working with police officers based on her issues with the department.
Meeker said the city “immediately reversed that decision upon becoming aware of the court clerk’s comments.”
The EEOC’s investigation determined that Clark “openly discussed” Ficalore’s disability and “his frustration” with her due to the disability and “his desire to discharge her on the basis of her usage of medical leave for her disability,” according to the EEOC finding.
“The evidence further indicates that Ficalore was often singled out for retaliatory reasons thus creating a hostile work environment,” according to EEOC’s December 2012 ruling. “Lastly, evidence indicates that Ficalore’s coworkers were threatened and intimidated by Clark when they supported her allegations of disability discrimination and unlawful retaliation.”
The lawsuit claimed that Ficalore received two demotions after Clark became police chief in August 2010. The second demotion assigned Ficalore to city hall in a position that was later eliminated by the city. The city offered Ficalore a choice of six weeks’ severance pay if she resigned or the position on a part-time basis, and she chose the latter even though it lacked medical benefits.
Meeker noted that in the past three years, four people have filed discrimination charges against the police department including Ficalore’s case. Of the others, two were dismissed and the third was settled for $1,000 before a lawsuit could be filed, he said.