A former employee of North Myrtle Beach’s finance department filed a lawsuit against the city on April 15, alleging in court records that she was terminated in retaliation for complaints about not being classified as a full-time worker despite working 40 hours a week.
Carolina Garcia, whose lawsuit describes her as a 46-year-old Hispanic woman with no religious affiliation, said she was hired on in June of 2016 as a part-time revenue business license inspector working 34-to-40 hours per week.
That same month, the suit said, the city’s finance director, a white male, subjected her to “unwanted touching” that the complaint describes as “harassing,” and which created a “hostile work environment.” The touching continued “throughout her employment,” the suit said.
Garcia’s hours were eventually increased to 40 hours a week, with her time split between the revenue department and water billing department, according to the lawsuit. Garcia complained to the city manager about not being classified as a full-time employee, which would have given her more benefits, but no corrective action was taken. No timeline was given for when Garcia raised concerns.
In September 2019, Garcia was disciplined for “minor work infractions,” that she said in the suit were pretext for discrimination and retaliation for reporting the discrimination to the city manager. The suit doesn’t describe the infraction or discipline.
On April 17, 2020, Garcia was furloughed, and she was discharged from her job weeks later on May 8, the complaint said. The suit said Garcia’s furlough and termination “were pretext for discrimination and retaliation for complaining about her lack of benefits she was entitled to receive.”
Garcia, considered a “protected class” under federal law, argued that she was “discriminated against and subjected to adverse employment actions, furloughed and terminated due to… her sex, age, religion and/or race in violation of Title VII and the applicable law.” Under federal law, employers cannot discriminate against someone for their age, race, sex, religion, national origin or disability.
Her suit said her job performance was higher than other city employees who were not in protected classes, and she’s asking for actual and consequential damages in excess of $50,000.
City spokesman Pat Dowling said Friday that the city hasn’t been served with a lawsuit and that the city doesn’t comment on legal matters.
The office of the attorney representing Garcia was closed Friday evening.