A third former employee has filed a discrimination lawsuit against the city of North Myrtle Beach.
Suzanne Hoffnagle, who was a 72-year-old administrative assistant in the public safety department at the time of her termination, alleged in a suit filed Wednesday that that she was let go three months before her planned retirement, and was offered only four weeks of severance after almost 20 years of working for the city.
According to the suit, she was hired on Sept. 5, 2000, and after weeks of furlough, was terminated on May 29, 2020, ostensibly because of COVID-related budget cuts.
She said in the complaint that the director of public safety told her she was an essential part of the effective performance of his duties, and that her furlough would be temporary. Her suit says the termination was pretext for discrimination based on her age and sex.
Hoffnagle’s attorney is Pamela Mullis, who’s representing two other women who filed discrimination suits last month. The city has not yet filed responses to any of the complaints.
The suit says Hoffnagle was performing her job at a higher level than other workers who were not terminated, and that the city fired her in order to avoid paying her retirement benefits.
According to her complaint, “the budget did not and has not in 2021, eliminated her position in the department of public safety and said budget continues to provide for the position which she satisfactorily performed for over 19 years.”
During the city’s budget retreat to discuss the Fiscal Year 2021-22 budget, officials said the new proposed budget did not add any positions, but that there were 35 budgeted positions that were unfilled. The officials did not specify the exact positions that were unfilled.
Hoffnagle is asking for more than $50,000 in compensation.
Mullis could not immediately be reached for comment. City spokesman Pat Dowling said the city typically doesn't comment on pending litigation.