On Sept. 20, three Peachtree City police captains lost their jobs to what the city called the casualties of restructuring the department.
But, on Wednesday, Ed Buckley, an attorney who is waiting to file a law suit against the city and chief, said the captains lost their jobs for speaking out in defense of one of his clients, Lisa Ficalore.
Ficalore was employed by the Peachtree City Police Department in 2002 working as the police chief's assistant. In April 2008 a new Chief, H.C. "Skip" Clark, was hired.
According to documents obtained by CBS Atlanta News, Ficalore states that, "since he has been hired I have experienced ongoing harassment and recently, a demotion and pay cut. I have tolerated negative gender stereotypes from some of my coworkers and from the new chief in particular," according to documents filed with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
Buckley explained that Ficalore was discriminated against by Clark because of her battle against endometriosis.
"She had to go to the doctor and take time off for medical purposes," Buckley said. "She found herself having her status reduced to part-time status. And there is documentation saying it was reduced to part-time status because of her medical leave issues, which in our view is a violation of, FML, Family Medical Leave Act.
Buckley explained that has had a significant impact on Ficalore's quality of life.
"She lost her leave rights, including her medical leave rights, she lost her pension, had her pay cut in half," Buckley said. "She has lost a lot and her pension is worth hundreds of thousands of dollars in terms of what she lost."
Multiple discrimination charges have been filed since 2011, the most recent charge of discrimination coming in July. Since that time, Buckley said a number of employees, including some of the police captains at the department, stuck up for Ficalore.
"There are some people who have been witnessing, on behalf of Ms. Ficalore, who are captains in the police department who have now found themselves having their positions eliminated," Buckley said.
Before those captains' positions were terminated, Buckley said Clark intimidated and threatened witnesses who were part of a federal investigation.
On April 12, 2012 a "cease and desist" letter was given to Clark for allegations that he was tampering with a federal investigation into the charges of discrimination.
The letter stated, "the commission has reason to believe that you may be engaging in conduct which as the effect of controlling or intimidating witnesses who could be required to testify during investigation of the above referenced charge of discrimination."
In human resource documents a major and sergeant with the police department documented alleged cases of intimidation by Clark.
In one letter he is quoted as stating to one of his officers, "If you don't get my back, it will be bad."
In another letter, the chief is alleged to have threatened another officer stating, "He could get rid of people in one day."
Buckley said he is concerned other employees under the regime of Clark are currently working in a hostile environment.
"We think it is something all city employees could be concerned about, because if this can occur to one employee it can occur to another," Buckley said. "And indeed what appears to be happening here is as employees step out and do the right thing somebody is trying to squash them. And we don't think that's right, and we think that is a civil rights violation and that's why we are taking such a close look at it."
According to city attorney, Ted Meeker, Clark was out of town on Wednesday, and the city does not comment on pending claims or lawsuits.
Multiple attempts to contact Clark for comment, since the three captain positions were eliminated, have been unsuccessful.
Copyright 2012 WGCL-TV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.
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