Jackson County

Why city employees are suing a Coast mayor: Millennial bias, a God sign, Confederate flag

Moss Point city employees and the wife of a firefighter are suing Mayor Mario King and the city, alleging they have been the victims of alleged harassment and age discrimination.

Some say they had their pay cut or were transferred to new positions and felt like they had no choice but to resign to maintain their good employment records.

The employees first filed their complaints with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which granted the workers the right to sue.

The city denied any age discrimination in its EEOC response and said the city has hired non-millennial employees and continues to employ workers over the age of 40.

Here’s a more detailed look at the individual claims:

Former City Clerk Stephanie Coleman

Coleman said the mayor was angry with her when he took office in 2017 because she had reported him as ineligible for the job because King did not live in the city limits.

She said she was the victim of constant harassment from King for various reasons, including her reporting to state agencies his alleged “use or misuse of city resources.”

In addition, she said the hostility against her increased when she filed internal grievances against King over how she felt his actions were adversely affecting residents and city operations.

Coleman said she was forced to resign after the mayor saw to it that her pay was cut by $16,000 a year despite a heavier work load.

Former grant writer Felicia Yearwood

Yearwood alleges she began to have problems with King after she wrote a statement in support of an employee who filed a grievance against the mayor for harassment.

When the employee who was being harassed went to leave her job for the last time, Yearwood said she went to tell the woman goodbye, but the mayor told her she couldn’t talk to her.

The same day, she claims he ordered Coleman to watch the two women to ensure their conversation ended.

Yearwood said she lost her job as a result when her grant-writing position was eliminated, though King had said he was going to continue to employ her for grant writing on a commission basis, all of which never happened.

Windell Ashford

Ashford was an employee in human resources when he was replaced by a millennial and moved to a secretarial/customer service position that was then eliminated. She said she was forced to retire because the mayor told her she was “too old” and needed to go.

Willie Nettles

Nettles was a building inspector who says he was harassed and treated differently than the younger employees because of his age.

He said the mayor on one occasion took offense to a sign in his office that read, “Only God can do it.” He said King took the sign off the desk and allegedly told Nettles, ‘We aren’t doing the God thing here.’

He said he filed grievances against the mayor but the mayor continued to harass him, even accusing Nettles of stealing.

Former director of parks and recreation Chad Smith

Smith alleges he was forced to resign as parks and recreation director because of the mayor’s repeated harassment over him being too old for the job.

He said the mayor increased his workload, but took away many of his supervisory roles and forced him to do manual labor.

As the harassment intensified, Smith said he felt like he had no choice but to resign to maintain his otherwise clean employment record.

Shirley Joseph

Joseph used to manage city attractions at Pelican Landing before the mayor moved her to the position of Main Street coordinator. She said she never received training for the new job.

King, she said, has told other employees she was “worthless, old and dried up and not technical enough.” She says the mayor told other employees he wanted her to go despite her otherwise clean employment record.

Firefighters David Eaker, Franklin Vance, Scott Montague and retired Fire chief Tommy Posey

All four are white fire department employees over the age of 40 who accuse the mayor of making racially-charged statements against them and said he tried to get other employees to claim they were racist.

The mayor told all four employees they could not display any Confederate flag or emblem on the job even though they had not done so.

Jacqulyn Davis

Davis is a city employee who said the mayor became hostile toward her after learning she was over the age 40 and had a daughter.

Since then, she claims, King has attempted to transfer her to other positions, lower her pay or eliminate her job altogether. After filing the EEOC complaint, she said the mayor became more hostile and began to increase her workload, change her job duties.

King, she said, has since reprimanded her for insubordination and poor work performance.

Firefighter Eaker and his wife, Misti Eaker

The Eakers allege the mayor has repeatedly harassed them, even accusing Misti Eaker of stalking him when she drove past the mayor’s home one day and snapped a picture of a city vehicle he had personally used to drive himself around.

The Eakers allege the mayor uses the Fire Department’s living quarters as a “personal motel” and say King has refused to adhere to a public records request from Misti Eaker to review budget records and expenditures.

In retaliation, the mayor allegedly posted a picture of Misti Eaker on social media and accused her of being a stalker.

The couple said King has continued to harass them, claiming King has even “fabricated” complaints about Misti Eaker visiting the Fire Department to keep her away.

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