Former North Myrtle Beach employee sues city for employment

 Former North Myrtle Beach employee sues city for employment


North Myrtle Beach City Hall.

North Myrtle Beach City Hall.

jbell@thesunnews.com

A former employee of the city of North Myrtle Beach is suing the city after she says she was discriminated against and fired, marking the second woman in under a month to file a discrimination lawsuit against the city.

The woman, Tracy Scola, was 51 years old when she was fired from her role as an assistant clerk of court. She had been employed since 2008, according to the lawsuit.

Scola was also performing duties of the assistant municipal judge but was not getting paid for them, the suit says.

Scola says she was “preached to” by other employees and informed by her supervisor and a coworker that a particular coworker did not like her “lifestyle.” Scola is divorced and not religious, the lawsuit says.

She says she was excluded from department notices, emails and correspondence because of her religious beliefs. She was also treated differently related to job benefits compared to her coworker who had the same religious views as their supervisors, according to the lawsuit.

North Myrtle Beach city spokesperson Pat Dowling declined to comment, saying that it is the city’s policy not to comment on legal matters.

The treatment Scola received was harassing and created a hostile work environment, the lawsuit states. Scola says she voiced her concerns to supervisors, but nothing was done.

One of her supervisors told Scola that she was his “type,” and these comments and the supervisor’s alleged history of touching employees without their consent also added to the hostile work environment, according to court documents.

On May 12, 2020, after weeks of furlough, Scola was fired.

She is suing the city for lost wages and other compensation that amounts to more than $50,000.

First discrimination lawsuit

Carolina Garcia, a 46-year-old Hispanic woman, was hired in June 2016 by the city of North Myrtle Beach as a part-time revenue business license inspector.

The former employee filed a lawsuit on April 15 alleging she was racially discriminated against and fired after reporting errors in her pay.

In the suit, Garcia also says she was subjected to sexual harassment and a “hostile work environment.”

She initially worked between 35 and 40 hours a week but eventually went up to 40 hours per week, working with both the revenue department and the water billing department.

These split duties forced her to bill hours to two different departments and prevented her from receiving the benefits and title that come with being a full-time employee, according to the lawsuit.

Garcia also says her boss, the director of finance for the city, who was a white man, touched her inappropriately throughout the duration of her employment. The lawsuit does not say whether the harassment was reported.

Garcia said in the lawsuit that her former employer discriminated against her and that she was later furloughed and fired on the basis of “sex, age, religion and/or race.” Garcia says in the lawsuit that she has no religious affiliation.

Dowling declined to comment on the Garcia suit, and attempts to reach the director of finance were unsuccessful.

Garcia was working 40 hours a week without being classified as a full-time employee, which would have given her benefits with her job. She complained to the city manager, but no action was taken to give Garcia the job benefits she was entitled to receive, according to the lawsuit.

In September 2019, Garcia was disciplined for “minor work infractions” that she believes were pretext for discrimination and retaliation for reporting the discrimination to the city manager, the suit says.

On May 8, 2020, she was fired from her job after weeks of furlough, which began on April 17. Garcia says in the lawsuit that the furlough and later termination were not related to the stated reasons but were “pretext for discrimination and retaliation for complaining about her lack of benefits she was entitled to receive.”

Garcia is asking for more than $50,000 in damages.

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Profile Image of Gerard Albert III

Gerard Albert III reports on any and everything in Myrtle Beach for The Sun News. Albert was editor-in-chief at Florida International University’s student newspaper. He also covered Miami-Dade and Broward County for WLRN, South Florida’s NPR station. He is an award-winning journalist who has reported throughout South Florida and New York City. He enjoys balancing the discipline and conviction in journalism with finding creative ways to find the truth and report it. Si, hablo espanol.





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