A former Walthourville police officer who had already sued the city and received a settlement for unpaid overtime has filed a new lawsuit against the city and Mayor Daisy Pray.
Former policewoman Latarshia Lee filed the suit April 19, according to court documents.
The suit alleges the city and mayor violated the Fair Labor Standards Act by firing Lee in retaliation to her previous suit.
In the suit Lee claims that the city and mayor began to subject her to increased scrutiny immediately after agreeing to a settlement of her first suit.
In the previous suit, filed in April 2017, the city and mayor agreed to pay Lee $7,142 in legal fees and $12,154 in overtime and back pay.
The settlement agreement was reached on Oct. 12.
The current suit claims that it was at this time that the city and mayor pressured former city police Chief Bernie Quarterman to target Lee and pressed for her to be fired.
It’s an allegation the former chief said is true and also led to his firing in January.
Quarterman said the issue began in April 2017 when he filed an open records request for the police department’s payroll because he thought the officers were not being paid correctly for overtime.
What resulted was a series of events leading to Quarterman being suspended twice before being fired. Two days after Quarterman was fired Lee was fired by the city for failing to complete two hours of annual training in 2017, which resulted in her being suspended by the Georgia Peace Officer’s Standards and Training board and failing to report a previous suspension.
The current suit says Lee was unable to finish her training due to being on medical leave.
Lee had said her leave was due to work-related stress, high blood pressure and a pending surgery.
She said the stress was the result of being the constant target of harassment and retaliation by the city and mayor since her first suit was settled.
The current suit notes Lee completed her training once her medical leave was over. It claims the city and mayor failed to properly pay Lee through her sick leave and seeks damages for mental and emotional suffering, economic damages, punitive damages, attorney’s fees and all other relief may be entitled to.
The city clerk, Melissa Jones, and Pray have not responded regarding the current lawsuit. However Jones previously said Lee failed to provide a physician’s excuse as required by the city during her sick leave. Jones also said one of Lee’s doctor’s notes appeared to have been altered.
Quarterman said he thinks more lawsuits will be filed.
He said he’s kept a copy of all the documents he had filed with the city and council which detailed what he called, “unfair” and “clearly retaliatory nature,” by the mayor and Jones.
Quarterman also alleges Pray tried to pressure him into planting drugs to frame City Council Member Larry Baker.