DARLINGTON, S.C. (WBTW) — A former Darlington city employee has filed a federal lawsuit accusing the city of violating the Americans With Disabilities and Family and Medical leave acts.
William E. McMillian filed the lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Florence on Nov. 15. He was hired as a maintenance technician in 2011 and was certified as a treatment plant operator and biological wastewater plant operator.
According to the lawsuit, he was on a medical leave of absence between April 14, 2021, and September 20, 2021. He was fired on Nov. 10, 2021 after being accused of being “aggressive” when he complained “about being treated in an unequal manner.”
McMillian’s lawsuit claims that the city “failed to properly provide FMLA job protection and retaliated” against him for taking FMLA leave. It also claims that the city treated him “differently because of his race and perceived disability” and retaliated against him because he objected to “discriminatory treatment.”
Darlington City Manager John Payne said he could not comment on any potential or actual legal matters.
According to the lawsuit, McMillian returned to work with no restrictions in September 2021 but that the city “initially delayed or denied” his return.
After he returned the work, the lawsuit says the city stripped him of his initial duties working in wastewater management without providing cross-training. He also was not permitted to use a city vehicle or lawn mower despite having no medical restrictions.
The city also denied him a proper opportunity for lunch and restroom breaks and subjected him to “labor intensive and difficult and/or dangerous tasks,” the lawsuit said.
The lawsuit includes other allegations against the city as well.
“Plaintiff is aware of Caucasian employees who had not been on medical leave, who worked through temp agencies who were allowed access to city vehicles, assigned Plaintiff’s old job duties, and allowed to listen to music with racial slurs and have firearms in the vehicle while working.”
McMillian’s lawsuit also alleges that the city violated his FMLA rights.
“Defendant retaliated and interfered with Plaintiff’s right to FMLA job protection;
and Defendant further retaliated against Plaintiff for requesting a fair return to work after medical leave, requesting equal treatment and complaining about unequal treatment, according to the lawsuit.
The lawsuit also alleges that he “was supervised and disciplined in an unfair, unequal, and/or harassing way” and that led to him being “segregated and adversely affected his status as an employee, because of his race and disability and complaints.”
The lawsuit seeks unspecified compensatory damages and damages for “emotional distress, mental anguish and humiliation” and other damages allowable under South Carolina law.