Starr’s Mill Academy, attorney to pay $40K for retaliation claim

Child care center, attorney accused of suing employee who brought EEOC complaint

A local child care center and its attorney will pay $40,000 to settle a lawsuit for retaliating against a former employee after she left the company, according to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Starr’s Mill Academy and its attorney, Nicholas P. Garcia, were accused of filing a lawsuit against former employee Hazel Matthews-Forte alleging that she made false statements in her discrimination complaint to EEOC. The 2009 lawsuit filed by Starr’s Mill Academy sought $105,000 from its former employee Matthews-Forte, who lives in Peachtree City.

While Starr’s Mill Academy and its owners, Glen and Ramelle Dinofer of Sharpsburg, denied any liability or wrongdoing, they must undergo equal employment opportunity training, report certain matters to EEOC and post anti-discrimination notices, agency officials said.

Starr’s Mill Academy claimed that attorney Garcia gave it improper advice on filing the lawsuit. The child care center is located on Ga. Highway 74 South, a short distance from Redwine Road.

“Case of this type are extremely rare — employers generally don’t retaliate against employees after the employment relationship has ended, and certainly not by filing lawsuits against them,” said EEOC regional attorney Robert Dawkins.

EEOC District Director Bernice Williams-Kimbrough called the retaliation “egregious.”

The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information is available at www.eeoc.gov.