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PTC settles discrimination lawsuit for $300K

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.



Citizen_Steve's picture

Has either mayoral candidate, or any existing or incoming council member expressed an opinion on what type of remedial action should be taken to prevent future issues such as this?


PTCitizen's picture

Looks like remediation was handled by separation. The references are to the "then" or "former" court clerk - obviously that $300,000 mistake led her to become employed elsewhere.

Citizen_Steve's picture

Who was separated? Was Chief Clark separated from his employment by the fair City? I hadn't heard about that. I did read about the plaintiff's remedy but not that of the taxpayer.


Robert W. Morgan's picture

Good point Steve, how does the taxpayer who pays the bills which include what must be astronomical insurance premiums to GIRMA get some satisfaction out of this?

That may be the real root of the problem, city officials behaving badly face no real consequences because they can hide behind GIRMA. At the very least people like Clark and Haddix and Eiswerth should face some formal tribunal that has the power to dock their pay or fire them based on how serious their "lapse of judgement" was.

Live free or die!

PTCitizen's picture

No, the Clerk. Sounds like the complaint against the police department was cleared, but the clerk took prohibited action against the plaintiff by denying her employment because of an open complaint. That's a big problem, and often the basis of settlement in claims like this - even if the original complaint is unfounded. The other paper's article on this was a little bit more clear. You have to read deeper than what the EEOC says - they're "rulings" are notoriously superficial and don't necessarily have anything to do with the way a case is disposed of. It's disappointing that either the paper or the city, not sure which, doesn't care to explain this better so all the angry finger pointers at least know what they're up in arms about.

Doesn't it state that the city's attorney (Ted Meeker) said "none of Ficalore's complaints had merit, except possibly the one involving the court clerk". So, according to this statement Chief Clark was cleared of the allegations brought forth by Ficalore. The city is having to pay for the incident that occurred at city hall between Ficalore and the court clerk....former court clerk.

Where are all the bloggers who crucified the police chief when the allegations from Ficalore and Babb came out? Y'all played judge and jury and drug the chief through the mud. You're all awfully quiet.... What have you to say now?

NUK_1's picture

GIRMA isn't shelling-out 300K because of nothing or a minor dust-up with the former court clerk. The EEOC didn't send a "cease and desist" to Skippy to stop interfering and trying to intimidate his staff that might swear under oath against him.

No matter...with ex_PTCPD Terry Ernst on Council as well as Mike King and the general consensus of how council feels about the job Skip has done, he'll be gone soon enough. Hopefully, we won't have to pay him some handsome severance either.

PTCitizen's picture

This is a really ignorant response... an example of people so set in their opinions, or so tainted with bias, that they won't take a second to consider anything else. No, they didn't pay 300k for a "dust up"... read this article, the other one in this paper, and the one in the TDIPTC: they're paying 300k for a managerial employee (court clerk) taking (at least arguably) unlawful action against Ficalore by denying her a job position based on an outstanding law suit. Settlements for retaliatory action like this are commonly in that range - in fact you can expect, on average, for a retaliation settlement to triple any other requested damages. I would actually expect a larger settlement if the underlying claim had merit.
As an aside, you put waaaaaay to much faith in what the EEOC puts in writing. If you can get one or two people to accuse somebody of doing something wrong the EEOC will fire off a form letter saying that they believe they have sufficient evidence to initiate action/injunction/etc against you and so forth. They frequently don't bother to actually investigate such things before issuing warnings.
It's sad that you apparently support Mike and Terry, yet expect nothing more educated from them than to blindly carry forth some crusade based on what seems like a frivolous law suit. Excellent choices!

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