State agency faces lawsuit after firing whistleblower for refusing to terminate pregnant employee

ai express – A lawsuit has been filed against the South Carolina Department of Mental Health by a former employee who claims she was wrongfully terminated as retaliation for refusing to fire a pregnant employee and an older employee. The court complaint alleges that the plaintiff was subjected to unfair treatment due to her decision to protect the rights of these two individuals.

Ann O’Connor, a resident of Horry County, held the position of human resources coordinator in the department from September 2019 to February 2023. According to the court complaint filed by Wigger Law Firm, her termination was wrongful and in violation of the South Carolina Whistleblower Protection Act.

According to the lawsuit, Jackie Brown and Ron Crites, O’Connor’s supervisors, instructed her to fire employees for unlawful reasons while she was working there.

According to Tracy LaPointe, the director of public information for the SC Department of Mental Health, Brown and Crites are still employed at the Waccamaw Center of Mental Health. LaPointe mentioned that the department does not discuss ongoing legal matters.

According to the lawsuit, there was an incident involving O’Connor’s supervisor who unknowingly hired a pregnant woman. Upon discovering her pregnancy, the supervisor instructed O’Connor to terminate her employment, citing the reason that he was unwilling to accommodate her due to her pregnancy.

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In a different case, a supervisor requested O’Connor to terminate an employee in his late 60s on the grounds of his age. However, it is important to note that South Carolina law strictly prohibits employers from engaging in discrimination based on age or pregnancy.

After O’Connor was asked to fire employees for illegal reasons, she took a stand and refused to carry out the termination. In response, O’Connor faced retaliation from her supervisors, who denied her a promotion, withheld her accrued time off, and even used derogatory terms to refer to her. The lawsuit did not specify the exact derogatory terms used.

On February 1, 2023, the SC Department of Mental Health terminated O’Connor. According to the lawsuit, her termination was a direct consequence of the complaints she made regarding her employer’s illegal instructions and subsequent retaliation.

O’Connor has filed a lawsuit claiming wrongful termination and violations of the South Carolina Whistleblower Protection Act. This act is designed to safeguard employees who report any form of misconduct.

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