Originally created 02/11/99

Former meter reader claims city discriminated

AIKEN -- A former longtime meter reader for North Augusta is suing the city, claiming she was fired in 1998 because she's female and objected to its unlawful employment practices.

Beverly D. Stewart claims Public Utilities Superintendent James Sutton demoted her to a Meter Reader II position in October 1997 despite a clean performance record and 11 years as Meter Reader I. Mr. Sutton said the demotion was to train new individuals for the Meter Reader I position, the lawsuit says.

The men who were trained requested to be transferred to other positions, and their requests were granted; her request to be transferred back to Meter Reader I was denied, Ms. Stewart said in the lawsuit filed Tuesday.

Ms. Stewart later informed the superintendent that because of the "different and unfair way he treated her," he was constructively discharging her from her position, the suit says. On Feb. 17, 1998, Mr. Sutton told Ms. Stewart her position had been filled and she was no longer needed, the lawsuit claims.

The termination came after she and a female co-worker, Susan Kay Crider, had complained to an unnamed supervisor, the suit says.

Ms. Stewart says she was subjected to different terms and conditions of employment than younger, male employees in similar positions. She says Ms. Crider was similarly terminated in 1998.

The lawsuit accuses the city of breaching a contract spelled out in the employee handbook and discriminating against Ms. Stewart because of her sex. A lawsuit represents only one point of view.


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