05/05/04 — Justice Department won't sue town of Mt. Olive

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Justice Department won't sue town of Mt. Olive

By Bonnie Edwards
Published in News on May 5, 2004 2:09 PM

MOUNT OLIVE -- The U.S. Justice Department will not sue the town of Mount Olive for alleged discrimination against a man who quit the rescue squad last year, but it also decided to not rule on the merits of the case.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ruled in March that a paramedic, Stanley Craig Odom, was subjected to unwanted sexual advances by a male lieutenant in the squad and was dismissed because he complained about it. The EEOC forwarded the ruling to the Justice Department in Washington, D.C.

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

On April 20, the Justice Department sent a letter to Odom by certified mail saying he if he wants to sue the town, he has to do it himself within 90 days of receiving the letter. The town of Mount Olive released a copy of the letter Tuesday.

The Justice Department said the letter should not be taken to mean that the department has made a judgment as to whether his charge has merit. It said, "You should consult an attorney of your own choosing at your earliest convenience. ... We are returning the files in this matter to the EEOC's Raleigh Area Office."

Odom filed the complaint in September. He said in March that he plans to sue the town.

Mount Olive Town Manager Ray McDonald denied firing Odom. He said Odom was suspended, and he didn't hear about sexual harassment until after the suspension.

Odom blamed his suspension on a co-worker who was on the Quality Assurance Committee, which alleged that he 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.