EEOC warns PTC Police Chief Clark: Stop intimidating witnesses

Peachtree City Police Chief H.C. "Skip" Clark. File photo.

‘... [T]he Commission has reason to believe that you may be engaging in conduct which has the effect of controlling or intimidating witnesses who could be required to testify during (the) investigation.’

Peachtree City Police Chief H.C. “Skip” Clark has been warned to “cease and desist” intimidating witnesses in a discrimination case pending before the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

What started in February 2011 as an EEOC complaint by former Peachtree City Police staff assistant Lisa Ficalore against Chief Clark on grounds of discrimination due to gender and disabilities has turned into two amended charges in April 2011 and an April 2012 letter from the Atlanta EEOC director telling Clark that the commission has reason to believe that he engaged in conduct that amounts to controlling or intimidating witnesses in Ficalore’s complaint.

A new filing on May 18 by Ficalore is charging retaliation over the elimination of her full-time position with benefits in City Hall earlier this month by the City Council. Ficalore’s was the only actively-filled position eliminated.

In mid-April, Atlanta EEOC Director Bernice Williams-Kimbrough sent Clark a letter informing him that the letter serves as a request to cease and desist from engaging in any conduct that could hamper, impede or affect the outcome of the EEOC investigation into the Ficalore complaint.

“The Commission believes it is currently in possession of sufficient information to justify filing a petition in the federal district court for preliminary injunctive relief to stop such conduct,” the letter said.

“... [T]he Commission has reason to believe that you may be engaging in conduct which has the effect of controlling or intimidating witnesses who could be required to testify during (the) investigation. Any attempt to intimidate, coerce or retaliate against witnesses or otherwise affect witness testimony in an ongoing investigation is strictly prohibited.”

Referencing federal law, Williams-Kimbrough noted that anyone who compromises the integrity of a federal administrative investigation can be subject to a fine and/or imprisoned for up to five years.

Supporting Ficalore’s position, and filed with the second amendment to the complaint, were notes from city Human Resources Administrator Ellece Brown, who had documented two conversations with Maj. Mike Dupree, now retired, and one conversation with Capt. Stan Pye. Dupree was the second in command of the department under both Chief Clark and former Chief James Murray.

Though Ficalore’s name was not specifically mentioned in Brown’s notes on the conversations with Dupree and Pye, Ficalore’s attorney Ed Buckley last week said that he had no doubt that their comments pertained to Ficalore and/or the internal investigation of the EEOC complaint.

Brown in the first conversation with Dupree, on March 16, 2011, began with Dupree saying he was concerned about what was going on in the police department.

Dupree told Brown that people were talking about many different things and that “everybody is very antsy.” Dupree referenced a conversation that Capt. Stan Pye said he had with Clark earlier in the day. Dupree said he had a similar conversation with Clark.

“Major further explained that everyone was afraid of retaliation. You don’t know who to trust; that’s why he was talking in a low voice to me. All of us feel under the gun. ‘It’s not a good work environment,’” Brown said in her notes of Dupree’s comments.

A second conversation between Brown and Dupree occurred on March 21, 2011. Brown’s notes said that Dupree told Clark he did not want to put himself in the middle of the situation at which point Clark replied, “Well, you are in the middle of it,” adding that he wanted Dupree to have his back.

“Major Dupree said, ‘I am going to tell the truth.’ Major Dupree explained that Chief Clark was really upset. Chief Clark said that he has got to know that Major Dupree is going to get his back. Then Chief Clark said, ‘If you don’t get my back, it will be bad,’” Brown’s notes said.

Ficalore’s amendment also contained Brown’s notes from a March 16, 2011 conversation with Capt. Stan Pye that was made to confirm an appointment that day with city attorney Ted Meeker and Doug Duerr that had been scheduled by Human Resources. Pye had notified Clark of the scheduled meeting and asked if he was in trouble.

“The chief responded that it depended on how Stan answered his questions. Stan was perplexed and asked me if this meant he was in trouble with the chief if he answered questions in a certain way. Stan further explained that this was the climate in the police department. ‘Everybody is scared to death.’ Stan stated that the chief told him several months ago that it was easy to get rid of people. He said he could get rid of people in one day. Stan believes that if certain questions are asked in this matter, things could get really ugly. He is concerned about this and his job,” according to Brown’s notes.

Pertaining to the second amended charge, Buckley in April 2012 wrote to Atlanta EEOC representative David Hendrickson stating that it appears that Clark is engaged in the active intimidation of at least two witnesses in Ficalore’s complaint. Buckley asked that EEOC investigate.

For the city’s part, City Manager Jim Pennington on Tuesday said he had not seen the letter from EEOC to Clark and, besides that, he could have no comment since the matter involves an EEOC complaint and the city does not comment on those matters.

The various filings in the EEOC case include allegations such as Ficalore being subject to a hostile work environment based on gender and disabilities, that she was denied training that others received, that Clark changed Ficalore’s score on a performance evaluation to a lower score, that Peachtree City Police Capt. Stan Pye and former Maj. Mike Dupree based on conversations with Clark told city Human Resources Administrator Ellece Brown that “everyone is afraid of retaliation” and that “everybody is scared to death.”

Documents provided by Ficalore’s attorney, Ed Buckley, also show an April letter from EEOC Atlanta Director Bernice Williams-Kimbrough advising Clark that the Commission has reason to believe that he may be engaging in conduct which has the effect of controlling or intimidating witnesses in the case.

And finally, the most recent filing on May 18 alleges retaliation for the elimination of Ficalore’s full-time job in City Hall effective June 1.

The initial EEOC complaint was filed in February 2011 by former Peachtree City Police staff assistant Lisa Ficalore alleging discrimination based on gender and disabilities. Prior to Clark’s hire in 2008, Ficalore had served as administrative assistant to former Chief James Murray.

Ficalore in the February 2011 complaint claimed that Clark demoted her and cut her pay in October 2008 when her position was “reclassified” from administrative assistant to staff assistant.

“In October 2008, Chief Clark asked the City Council to reclassify me, lower my job title, pay grade and class level as well as my pay and max-out salary while telling me he fought hard to avoid my pay being affected,” the complaint said.

Ficalore in the complaint also contends that she received a score of “5 out of a possible 5” that is equivalent to “outstanding” on her job performance evaluations for six consecutive years prior to Clark’s arrival. Things changed in October 2009 when she received a score of “3” on her evaluation, the complaint said.

The complaint notes that Ficalore suffers from chronic endometriosis and chronic allergies and has had to take medical leaves to treat those problems, with five surgeries in the past nine years. Ficalore said Clark was documenting her sick time and had sent her supervisors to the city’s human resources department to inquire “what they could ‘do to me’ because of my use of sick time.”

Ficalore said things changed even more in 2010 maintaining that Clark changed the score on her performance evaluation after it had been completed by her immediate supervisor.

“Between October 2010 and December 2010 I received three separate evaluations prior to finally getting my final evaluation two months late. I was told by my immediate supervisor, Claudia Stapleton, that this was due to the chief changing the scores she had written in. Claudia scored me in the high ‘4s’ and the chief lowered it to a low ‘3.’ Ms. Stapleton was clear with me that she did not agree with the chief and that I was doing a wonderful job and that she would have given me a higher score,” the complaint said.

The February 2011 complaint stated that in August 2010 Clark required Ficalore to provide notes concerning her condition and prognosis and that in January 2011 prior to a scheduled surgery she was told to train a police sergeant who was on light duty to temporarily replace her. Later the same day she was told that she would be temporarily assigned to City Hall.

Ficalore in the February 2011 complaint also stated that she had been made to work in a hostile work environment, that she “experienced negative gender stereotypes from some of my coworkers and from the new chief in particular,” that Clark had told others that she was “useless” and that “he wants to get rid of me.” Ficalore said that Clark on one occasion wrote her up “for being two minutes late to work.” And Ficalore maintains that in April 2010 she was denied training that others received.

An amendment to the February 2011 complaint was filed with EEOC in April of that year. The amendment, a claim of retaliation, stated that Ficalore believed she had been singled out due to her gender, had suffered a number of adverse actions and had been repeatedly singled out by Clark. This type of work environment continued until she was transferred out of the police department.

Another portion of the April 2011 amendment stated Ficalore’s belief that the retaliation was also a violation of the Americans With Disabilities Act.

A second amended charge to the discrimination complaint was filed with EEOC in April 2012. In that amendment Ficalore said she had repeatedly applied for positions with Peachtree City for which she was well-qualified but had been rejected in favor of less-qualified applicants.

“Recently, I learned that the determination had been made not to transfer me out of my current position (in City Hall) as long as my EEOC charge is pending. I am not allowed to work comp time. I have been denied the opportunity to take vacation. I have been written up for taking even small increments of time off without pay. I have learned that since I filed my charge of discrimination the chief of police has intimidated witnesses, telling one that if he didn’t ‘get his back’ things would be ‘bad’ and to another that it is ‘easy to get rid of people.’”

Ficalore has remained at City Hall since her transfer there to a front desk position in January 2009. But that is about to change due to a move approved by the City Council earlier this month. Pennington in a proposal to reorganize City Hall recommended, and the council approved, that Ficalore’s position be eliminated and two part-time positions without benefits be created. No other currently filled jobs in City Hall were recommended for elimination. Ficalore in response filed another document with EEOC alleging retaliation for the action that eliminates her full-time job.

“Shortly after I filed my second amended charge (on April 12, 2012), I was denied FMLA (Family and Medical Leave Act) leave. I have learned that my supervisor started keeping notes on her computer concerning my comings and goings on April 12. On May 16, my position was eliminated effective June 1. I have been given a choice between taking a part-time position and six weeks of severance. In the part-time position I lose not only my salary, but also my pension which will accrue at a much lower rate now, sick leave, medical and dental insurance, life insurance, short-term and long-term disability and the employer contribution to my 401k/457 plan, vacation, holiday pay and overtime pay. My employer did this knowing that because of my disability I need the sick leave and the short-term and long-term disability leave,” Ficalore said in the May 18 retaliation filing.

For Lisa Ficalore, her time in Peachtree City government will either end on June 1 or will continue in a part-time position with a loss of benefits.

As for what the future holds and in terms of a law suit being filed, Buckley said, “If the city doesn’t rectify it that’s the next step.”

rmoc
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chronic endometriosis and chronic allergies my goodness

I am sorry but boohoo..I am a woman and the whining stuff doesn't cut it in this world. I had pneumonia and worked half days for 2 weeks. I have worked with women that have "chronic" conditions and are real whiners. If she was really performing they would cut her some slack because great employees are hard to find. City employees have been asked to go above and beyond and sorry but that what it takes in this economy whether in the public or private sector.

mudcat
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You are focused on the real problem, rmoc

Lisa is not a suck it up and go to work kind of person. She is always victimized and always looking for an excuse. All this is certainly just my humble opinion and therefore exempt from testimony or depositions. Yes, I have been threatened with both. My God, you have to love lawyers.

As I said before, when you have 2 jobs in a row where your job was eliminated and no one was assigned to replace you --- well, Helloooooo! Actually it is Goodbye.

NUK_1
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Getting rid of Skippy for the wrong reasons

I am not opposed to the concept, even if it involves a headcase employee. He simply needs to go, and the sooner the better. Turn the department back over to the professional law enforcement personnel already employed there who are more qualified and experienced to run the department than Skippy ever was in the first place.

I don't know what the Logsdon Council was thinking in hiring him in the first place, but I have no doubt that good 'ol Bernie had a major role in it also. Let's remove this mistake and carry on in a better direction.

rmoc
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mudcat; maybe we should develop "chronic" conditions

I don't feel like working anymore, how about you? My dad worked after his stroke until the doctor told him he needed to stop...He was a class act. He wasn't trying to get SSI or disability or try to sue..He worked until the doctor told him no more and then unfortunately passed shortly after..

skyspy
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Another one bites the Dust

First we had the porn queen and now this. Its a good thing our pd sets quotas on tickets because we are going to need the extra money to pay for this one. How much are they going to raise our taxes to pay for this kind of incompetence?
The mayors runaway mouth is going to be cheap compared to this mistake. The penalties for retaliation in an EEOC case I believe still start @ a cool million dollars and go up from there.

lexveritas
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Bernie's Man

Chief clark is just imitating the absurd and illegal behavior of the incredible bully who was his best pal - Bernie McMullen. The former city manager insulted, ignored, and pushed peole around like a street gang member, and Skip took his cues accordingly. Bernie set a strong and ugly tone for intimidation and corrupt practices for many years, and old Skip just towed the line. Why would anyone be surprised at any of this?

25 ft tape
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{{{{{{EDITED & WARNED}}}}}}}} Don't worry PTC,

PTC is not going to pay for this anyway. Fayette county residents carry the corrupt PTC municipality. LIKE BEFORE.
Just like the water system, that Fayette County owns but PTC claims. Fayette County will pay to have the lake dredged. Fayette County also pays for the Reck department. PTC takes money (150K+ a year) from Fayette county taxpayers and then excludes residents from using the facilities or charges residents more than citizens of PTC.
How is it a land owning citizen that lives on Water Front Lake Peachtree pays less property taxes than a Fayette County Resident’s property with no such amenities. PTC whores Fayette county residents. PTC is the living Hypocrisy of Fayette County.
Mut Kat are you the true PTC Aryan race? Do you think you are apart of the Delta dynasty that inbreeds the corruption of PTC.
Do you still wear you docker shorts and penny loafers?
How straight is your family tree mutkat? You probably do have a king’s blood line minus the king. Try not to speak.
{{{{{{EDITED & WARNED — Read the terms of service again}}}}}}}
One good thing,PTC does have the Council, Manager, Chief working together. Not smart, but together.

25 ft tape
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Sorry, I expected too much.

Ouch, Ooo, stop, the satire is killing me. Seems as though you show a pattern of being curious.
Apparently I was wrong thinking you were just ignorant. Are you tired or just old? Nothing to learn here if you’re not capable. I have to explain that the chicken excrement was a reference to your fowl mouth. (PUN) If you don’t get it now I won’t waist anymore of my time with you. Look at little deeper into your curiosity if you are capable. Oh wait. I am sorry, I gave you more credit than you deserve. I understand you are limited intellectually. It will be OK just keep complaining.
{{{{{{EDITED & WARNED — Read the terms of service again}}}}}}}

PTC Observer
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Stop! Please

Some of us know binary code.

Mudcat, on Tuesday morning you should call the EEOC and file a complaint about this out of control government worker. She is way out of line for someone that works for the "government".

istilldontknow
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binary translation

please, then, translate what I typed :)

PTC Observer
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Nonesense

;-)

mudcat
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I have always wondered how large tapeworms can grow.

Now I know. 25 feet. That's pretty much all I learned from our newest member. Very curious indeed. What kind of disorder causes this?

Maybe it is our favorite foul-mouthed federal employee - aka Opinionatedwench with a second screen name so she can really cut loose when she gets out of her cubicle.

CI5835
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Another one bites the dust!!

Bye HC "HAIL THE CHIEF" "JIP US OFF" Jerk, oh sorry it's Clark; have a nice trip to back to whatever snake hole in the sand you slithered out of...can we please get some real leadership on the council!?? A Mayor who might have the character to hold himself accountable for his *MISTAKE* which I'm sure cost us way more than $10K, and a City Manager who won't be the Police Chief's puppet at city hall, seriously, what is going on with this city!!?!??

Citizen_Steve
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What are her disabilities?

What are Ms. Ficalore's disabilities?

istilldontknow
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CAL - ALERT

OpinionatedWench should be warned...and mudcat banned for those comments. Completely uncalled for.

PTC Observer
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istilldontknow - You

You work for the government?

Now don't deny it..... ;-)

You see I think you have it backward. OpinionatedWench should be banned and mudcat warned.

I would say that the EEOC should investigate who in their department handles these things, find OpinionedWench, and toss her out on her backside. She has gone completely outside her authority as a representative of the government agency she represents. There is no doubt a "law" that covers this misdeed.

She is what gives us the impression that those in positions of power, abuse it.

SPQR
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guess what

In case you haven't noticed we're all working for the government.:-(

istilldontknow
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Way to attempt to shift the argument!

No, I don't work for the government :)

PTC Observer
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Shift the argument?

What argument? Are we arguing?

I knew you would deny it. ;-)

istilldontknow
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PTC Observer

send me an email - I'll be happy to discuss any topic with you and dispel any doubts you might have about my employment :)

PTC Observer
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Doubt? ISDK

I have no doubts.

What do you want to talk about? You pick.

NUK_1
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Skip a wretched manager? SHOCKER!

The guy's credentials frankly were very medicore when he was selected and he's done a poor job since. Community policing became Community Ticketing and his asinine roadblocks haven't made anyone "safer." He's also managed to alienate the rank-and-file with his lack of leadership(gee, maybe he can be our next Mayor!)and it will be a good day when he hits the road back to somewhere in Florida to run a PD with a few hundred seniors on golf carts. This job is way above his pay grade.

"Got my back? Got my back?" What is he, 17?

OpinionatedWench
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Reply to mudcat

Don't live in the area, but signed up just to respond...

I am a 'paper pusher' at EEOC, for over ten years now. I'm staying anonymous because I'm not speaking on the record as an official of the EEOC - I'm 'front-line' as opposed to 'management.' I wish I could sit at my desk and do nothing but push paper all day, but there's too much actual work to do & not enough people to do it.

Just wanted to let you & other people know, the letter sent by the District Director is NOT a standard form letter, and is rarely used, if ever. As I said above, 10+ years here - this is only the second letter of this kind I've ever heard of being sent. As VP Biden would say, it's a big********EDITED deal. The reason is, that we rarely have enough evidence to confirm that intimidation is in fact going on. Usually we *know* it is, but can't *prove* it to the level the law requires.

Just my humble opinion. That letter deserves more - respect, I guess - than it's being given.

OpinionatedWench

mudcat
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Reply to EEOC wench

Do a good job on Skippy and maybe you can get a promotion into the major-league harassment of businesses division where they try to close businesses and put honest hard-working employees out of work. Best of all you'll get to sell your house in DeKalb and move to Boston where you can get a studio apartment for $1400/month.

See the story of the terrible, evil coffee company that the federal government has decided is guilty of something.
http://bostonherald.com/news/regional/view.bg?articleid=1061134167

Even though the situation with Marylou's has only a very slight racial component, that's the part that voters will remember come November.

I know that last part is irrelevant, but I'm filling in for David's Mom while she is on vacation.

Cyclist
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Oh Cal....

Please take out the trash

mudcat
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Thanks for the F-word you wench federal paper pusher

Very classy and your bond with Joe Biden is duly noted.
Take your form letter and stuff it, OpinionatedWench. You working for the Federal Government is a waste of tax dollars. Come back and see us when you can actually prove something instead of bonding with the Fickle Ficlo. ficlori person. You gotta talk to this other wench before you make up your mind. Sounds like the 2 of you would get along - she uses the F-word a lot as well.

Did you actually say "Usually we *know* it is, but can't *prove* it to the level the law requires." You may want to consider obeying the law and stopping the witch hunt. We really don't need to be paying federal employees like you to persecute innocent people that you merely suspect of a crime. Keep your stupid form letters locked up in your drawer and count down the next 10 years to your pension. What if we "knew" you were actually born in Kenya, but could not prove it? What about that, OpinionatedWench?

Hope you live in DeKalb or Rockdale so you can look to Hank Johnson as a role model.

Cal, this woman is obviously fat, a minority , a single mother and certainly obscene. Why can't we dump her from here? This is Fayette County for crying out loud, not DeKalb.

And while you are at it, dump istilldontknow, since she obviously still does not know much about anything. Cleansing is good. Get rid of the fungus.

And dump Morgan while you dumping Sharika or whatever her name is. He's going to Maine for 4 months and is not taking a computer, not planning to vote in July and pretty much only cares about his own personal comfort and his stupid sailboat. Yes I'm jealous.

istilldontknow
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Staying Classy...

She? Interesting....
fat, a minority, a single mother....all logical constructs, indeed.

Perhaps we should all calm down a bit?

dawgday
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Great Reporting

Sounds like the paper is participating in intimidation of the city since the city cannot respond publically to the complaint. Always good to see good investigative reporting - digging into the facts and getting information from all sides to put togther the truth.

mudcat
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This could get interesting, the key word being - could

Could, because it is not interesting now. Article is simply a bunch of old news surrounding the arrival of a form letter from a paper pusher at EEOC. If this thing actually goes to trial and we get to hear the saga of Major Dupree from the March 2011 threat from the chief, thru his job responsibilities being shifted to others, ending with his obviously forced retirement in December 2011. Now that would be interesting reading.

A far as Lisa is concerned, when 2 different departments eliminate your job and don't replace you, there is a pretty clear message in there. Add excessive absenteeism and poor people skills and you have the complete picture.

borntorun
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Skippy The Intimidator

I don't personally know Ms. Ficalore nor do I know if her claim has any merit but being the top law enforcement officer in PTC, Skippy ought to know better than to circumvent EEOC procedures once a discrimination claim has been filed. That's just plain stupid! And if what is in the article is true, sounds like Skippy runs the PTC Police Dept with threats of retaliation and intimidation tactics. As far as poor people skills Mudcat, I don't think Ms. Ficalore is the only one at the PTC Police Department who can be hit with that accusation. When the curtain is completely pulled back on the administration of PTC Police Department once this EEOC claim has been adjudicated, maybe we will see why that is the case. I tell you, between this and Donnie's $10,000 problem, City Hall is a friggin' mess!