04/24/06 — Mount Olive agrees to settlement with former town employee

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Mount Olive agrees to settlement with former town employee

By Turner Walston
Published in News on April 24, 2006 1:45 PM

The Town of Mount Olive agreed last month that St. Paul Fire and Marine Insurance Company would pay $41,750 to settle a lawsuit brought against the town by former employee Craig Odom.

Odom filed suit in July 2004, alleging that he was sexually harassed by co-worker David Lane while the two were employed with Mount Olive Emergency Services. The suit referred to comments allegedly made by Lane toward Odom as well as inappropriate touching.

According to the suit, the harassment created a "hostile work environment." Odom repeatedly complained to his supervisor, Charles Swinson, about offensive conduct, but Swinson "refused to do anything to stop the conduct," the suit read.

Odom received a letter of reprimand in July 2003, shortly after he complained about the sexual harassment, according to court documents. On July 14, 2004, Odom was called into the office of Town Manager Ray McDonald. According to the suit, McDonald told Odom to "keep his mouth shut."

Odom, now employed by Lenoir County, was later informed by letter that he was fired, effective July 14, 2004. The lawsuit says that since the complaint, Odom tried several times unsuccessfully to gain employment as a paramedic or emergency medical technician.

He asked for back pay, legal fees and compensation for financial losses, emotional pain and deprivation of his civil and constitutional rights.

Under the terms of the settlement agreement, Odom discharged his claims against the parties under North Carolina law.

Town Attorney Carroll Turner said the decision to settle was made by the town's insurance company.

"At least it's closure," Odom said of the settlement.