Originally created 04/07/01

Former airport employee files suit



The former marketing director at Augusta Regional airport filed suit this week, alleging sexual harassment and discrimination.

Renee C. Simons filed a Richmond County State Court lawsuit Monday, seeking unspecified compensatory damages from the Richmond County government for lost wages and benefits, emotional distress and legal fees, and seeking compensatory and punitive damages against former airport Director Albert L. McDill.

A lawsuit represents only one side of a dispute. The city and Mr. McDill have 30 days to respond to Ms. Simons' lawsuit.

Ms. Simons alleges in her lawsuit that while working directly for Mr. McDill she was subjected to continuous abusive, threatening and humiliating behavior by Mr. McDill. She further alleges that he made demeaning and degrading comments, such as "You don't have an original idea in your head," and "You know nothing."

Ms. Simons is the second former female airport employee to file a sexual discrimination lawsuit. Lilian A. Brown filed suit in U.S. District Court in October. The city settled her claim for $18,000, without an admission of fault, in January.

In January, Ms. Simons received a "right to sue" letter from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission after the agency's efforts at conciliation failed.

"It is apparent from witness testimony and the number of females who were either discharged or had to resign, that females were treated poorly (while working at the airport under Mr. McDill's leadership)," Bernice Williams-Kimbrough, director of the EEOC Atlanta district office, advised the city in an Aug. 31 letter.

Six women who worked under Mr. McDill's leadership from July 1, 1998, through Jan. 31, 2000, were fired or resigned, Ms. Williams-Kimbrough noted.

Mr. McDill was fired in March 2000 for what the Augusta Aviation Commission called "philosophical differences."

Ms. Simons alleges in her lawsuit she was constructively discharged Oct. 4, 1999, after six months on the job.

Reach Sandy Hodson at (706) 823-3226.