03/23/04 — Federal agency finds basis for discrimination

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Federal agency finds basis for discrimination

By Bonnie Edwards
Published in News on March 23, 2004 2:00 PM

MOUNT OLIVE -- A federal agency has ruled in favor of a man who says the town discriminated against him.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has forwarded the ruling to the Justice Department in Washington, D.C., saying a paramedic, Stanley Craig Odom, was subjected to unwanted sexual advances, sexual remarks and touching by a male lieutenant in the squad.

It says the town failed to take reasonable steps to promptly correct the harassment, and there is sufficient evidence to establish that Odom was discriminated against based on his sex and discharged in retaliation for complaining about the sexual harassment.

Odom said he received a copy of the ruling on March 4. In the ruling, the EEOC offered to hold informal mediation. But Odom said the town refused to participate.

He said he didn't want to file the complaint. "If they'd apologized and given me back my job, it could have been resolved," he said. "I love EMS work, and I loved doing it in Mount Olive."

He said he was suspended last July in retaliation for complaining. He said he was also dismissed from the volunteer squad. He filed the complaint in September.

He said he is expecting to receive a "right to sue" letter from the Justice Department and plans to sue the town in federal civil court. He said he has to bring suit against the town within 90 days of receiving the letter.

Mount Olive Town Manager Ray McDonald has not returned calls from the News-Argus. He has denied firing Odom, instead saying that Odom was suspended. He said he didn't hear about sexual harassment until after the suspension.

Odom blamed his suspension on a co-worker who is on the Quality Assurance Committee. He said that on July 11 he received a certified letter of reprimand from Mount Olive EMS. The committee alleged that Odom had shredded important documents.

He said he shredded some copies the committee had made of three of his rescue call reports because of a new federal law requiring patient confidentiality. The shredding of the documents was not mentioned in the complaint.