The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has ruled against former tag office director Nancy Mims, who told the federal agency it was her age and race, not a department restructuring, that caused Tax Commissioner Steven Kendrick to let her go.
The EEOC notice of dismissal, obtained from the Augusta Law Department, said that based on its investigation, EEOC was unable to conclude Kendrick was in violation of federal laws. Mims is white; Kendrick is black.
Mims said she was not surprised EEOC made no finding of discrimination becuase of the limited information the federal agency had.
‘‘They've looked at what I sent them, and that was it,’’ she said Friday.
Before the EEOC ruling arrived Thursday at the city law office, however, Mims had pursued another direction in her claims again Kendrick. She filed a lawsuit last week in Superior Court claiming Kendrick broke personnel policies when he informed her on March 11 that she was losing her job because of downsizing.
‘‘I know what he did is not right, and I know the reasons that he did it,’’ Mims, an employee since 1984, said Friday. ‘‘He wanted my salary, and he split it (among) the people that he wanted to.’’
Takiyah Douse, who succeeded Mims, holds an MBA and later received a salary bump to $9,000 more than Mims was making. Several others in the department also received promotions and raises in changes that Kendrick called a departmental reorganization.
Mims said she had seen others be demoted and wished Kendrick had simply moved her to another position where she could work the three more years she needed to receive her full retirement.
Kendrick maintains that all his staffers are at-will employees who can be terminated for any reason.
Kendrick has also said that although total salaries actually increased in his department, the reorganization that eliminated Mims’ job created greater efficiency and increased collections.
In Mims' suit, attorney Mike Brown asks for proof of the cost savings.
The complaint, which asks for restitution of lost wages and benefits in addition to damages, or that Mims be reinstated, claims Kendrick broke policy by calling Mims’ termination a reduction-in-force to deny her typical due process afforded city employees.
“They used a procedure or device they knew was a sham or fraud,” Brown said.
The transition has been tough for Mims. Her husband, who had been covered under Mims’ city health insurance, recently had a stroke, and the couple has had to rely on a community health clinic for care.
“Over time, it just wipes you out,” she said.
Mims was let go around the time Augusta adopted a personnel manual that spells out explicit procedures for reductions-in-force and other actions, but it was not in effect over tax commission employees then.