PTC close to settling discrimination complaint
The Peachtree City Council Thursday may pay its portion of a settlement to resolve a lawsuit involving sex and disability discrimination claims brought by former Police Department employee Lisa Ficalore against the city and Police Chief H.C. “Skip” Clark.
Council is proposed to approve $5,000 in back pay compensation to Ficalore, according to a memo from City Attorney Theodore Meeker to the council. But the main settlement in the case is between Ficalore and the city's risk management carrier, and that stands to run substantially larger given the allegations in the case -- including a warning from federal officials against Clark for threatening high-ranking police employees in an effort to "interfere" with the federal investigation.
A final copy of the GIRMA settlement was not available Thursday, but once it is executed by both parties it will be a public record and the details will be published in a future edition of The Citizen.
City Attorney Ted Meeker explained the back pay settlement for $5,000 in a memo to the City Council that was released Wednesday afternoon. The settlement plan, he noted, was devised following an Oct. 16 mediation between the city, GIRMA representatives and Ficalore, Meeker noted.
“The settlement will also allow Ms. Ficcalore (sic) to make a payment to the city as reimbursement for the cost of a pension enhancement,” Meeker wrote. “The terms of the agreement are within the parameters authorized by the mayor and council on Aug. 1, 2013.”
A staff assistant at the Peachtree City Police Department until her transfer to City Hall, Ficalore in early 2011 filed a discrimination complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission alleging she was discriminated against based on her gender and disabilities.
In the complaint, Lisa Ficalore claims that Chief Clark demoted her along with handing her a pay cut in October 2008 when her position was “reclassified” from administrative assistant to staff assistant.
Previously, Ficalore had been the number one assistant to then-Chief James Murray. Chief Murray resigned under pressure in late 2007. Clark succeeded Murray in April of 2008.
Later in 2012, Clark received a warning letter from the EEOC to “cease and desist” intimidating witnesses in the discrimination case.
An Atlanta EEOC director wrote to Clark that the commission had reason to believe that he engaged in conduct that amounts to controlling or intimidating witnesses in Ficalore’s complaint.
“The Commission believes it is currently in possession of sufficient information to justify filing a petition in the federal district court for preliminary injunctive relief to stop such conduct,” the letter said.
“... [T]he 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.”
The original complaint noted that Ficalore suffers from chronic endometriosis and chronic allergies and has had to take medical leaves to treat those problems, with five surgeries in the past nine years. Ficalore said Clark was documenting her sick time and had sent her supervisors to the city’s human resources department to inquire “what they could ‘do to me’ because of my use of sick time.”
The Citizen has filed an Open Records request with the city for an accounting of other expenses associated with the Ficalore complaint, including attorney fees and staff expenses.