PTC OKs settlement with employee accosted by former fire dept. chief
The Peachtree City Council unanimously approved an additional $50,000 settlement with a female firefighter who claimed that former Fire Chief Ed Eiswerth stormed into her hotel room at a conference in November as part of an attempt to have sex with her.
This brings the grand total paid to Firefighter Martine Piers to $300,000 to settle her discrimination claim that was filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
The city is paying $50,000 of the amount and the rest is being covered by the city’s risk management carrier, the Georgia Interlocal Risk Management Agency (GIRMA).
When the incident at the hotel in Clearwater, Fla. came to light in December, Eiswerth tendered his resignation from the fire department. The EEOC complaint filed by Piers recounted how Eiswerth made multiple attempts to coax her into having sex with him ranging from text messages to coming to her home on multiple occasions.
In an interview with the city’s human resources department following the incident, Piers said on the night of the hotel incident in Florida, she thought Eiswerth was going to rape her and she felt he violated her trust. Eiswerth removed Piers from the city’s volunteer firefighter board a short time after they returned from the Florida conference, which she considered retaliation for rebuffing his sexual advances.
In the HR interview, Piers said she decided to come forward to protect younger female firefighters, and she didn’t want Eiswerth to brush the incident under the carpet.
Piers joined the fire department in November 2010 as a full-time firefighter. In exchange for the legal settlement, she is dropping the right to file future lawsuits with the city and also will move to dismiss her complaint with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
The proposed settlement was reached during a mediation hearing Feb. 19 between Piers, the city and GIRMA representatives.
The city may be facing a future lawsuit from Eiswerth in a dispute over unpaid sick leave he had accrued over his career with the fire department. The city has declined to pay the sick leave, an amount over $20,000, because city policy dictates that since Eiswerth did not work a full two-week advance notice period following the tendering of his resignation.
Eiswerth will be paid by the city for his accrued leave and compensatory time, according to an email sent to Eiswerth’s legal counsel in regards to the issue.
In a letter to Eiswerth Dec. 21, City Manager Jim Pennington noted that he was classifying Eiswerth’s resignation four days earlier as a “resignation while under investigation.”
In that letter, Pennington said had Eiswerth not resigned, “there is a very good chance that I would have initiated disciplinary proceedings,” against him.
“This conclusion is based on those allegations of the (EEOC) charge which you have admitted in your discussions with Ellece and me as being true or substantially true, as well as your status as a department head for implementing, ensuring compliance with and enforcing city policy.”