MONCKS CORNER, S.C. (WCBD) – Thelma Lewis, a former law enforcement officer at the Moncks Corner Police Department, filed a federal lawsuit last week on the basis of racial and gender discrimination.
The three main grievances expressed by Lewis regard violations of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, retaliation, and a hostile work environment.
The lawsuit, which names Moncks Corner Police Chief Rick Ollic, the Moncks Corner Police Department, and the Town of Moncks Corner as Defendants, alleges that Lewis faced workplace discrimination due to her being an African American woman.
Lewis, who began working at the department in 2004, said that the discrimination and harassment began when Ollic took his position in 2016. She cites multiple examples of him using sexually and racially-charged derogatory language both to her and about her.
The complaint states that once, when Lewis caught Ollic using derogatory terms to refer to her, she confronted him and he downplayed the comments.
The behavior extended beyond just name-calling, according to Lewis, who says that in 2019, she was not given a pay raise, despite two lower-ranking white male Sergeants in her department receiving raises.
Lewis goes on to allege that she reported the issues, “but nothing was ever done or investigated, due to her harasser being the Chief of Police.” In at least one case, Ollic’s remarks were “witnessed by the Captain at that time.”
Later that year, Lewis, who “satisfactorily performed her essential and fundamental job functions and was an exemplary employee in all respects…was constructively discharged due to the constant and repeated racial and gender discrimination.”
She believes that the Police Department and the Town of Moncks Corner were duty-bound to “prevent such acts and behavior from occurring and to stop it once the behavior had been reported.” In failing to do so, they “acted with malice or reckless indifference,” thereby violating Lewis’ federally guaranteed workplace rights.
Lewis is seeking relief for “great emotional and mental distress, terror, fright, revulsion, disgust, humiliation, embarrassment, shock and indignities, lost wages, loss of front pay, back pay, and other work benefits.”