Former Pelham marketing director sues city

Published 11:41 am Tuesday, March 12, 2013

By NEAL WAGNER / City Editor

The former Pelham marketing director has filed a lawsuit against the city, claiming she was wrongfully terminated from her position and was discriminated against because of her gender.



Eva Shepherd, who served as the city’s marketing director from 2008-2012, filed the lawsuit in U.S. District Court on Feb. 15. In the complaint, Shepherd claimed she was the victim of “unlawful discriminatory practices based on her gender involving pay, benefits and other terms and conditions of employment.”

Shepherd was hired as the Pelham marketing director by former mayor Don Murphy in December 2008, and was terminated from the position by current Mayor Gary Waters one day after Waters took office in November 2012.

Shortly after Shepherd was hired, the City Council voted to eliminate the Pelham Civic Complex’s general manager, marketing and sales manager and maintenance manager positions.

“Plaintiff assumed all three of those positions … and the accompanying job duties in addition to her full-time job as marketing director for the city of Pelham without any additional pay or raise in salary,” read the complaint.

The lawsuit claimed Shepherd’s salary was raised from $47,102 to $62,036 after a city salary study was conducted by the Mercer consulting firm in 2009, “making her salary $30,000 less than the lowest paid department head.”

Shepherd claimed she twice requested a pay raise from Murphy, claiming there was “a disparity in pay as compared to the men she replaced at the Civic Complex.” The lawsuit claimed Shepherd received “no response” from Murphy, and filed a complaint with the Equal Opportunity Employment commission on Oct. 27, 2011.

On Aug. 31, 2012, EEOC District Director Delner Franklin-Thomas issued a determination on Shepherd’s first EEOC complaint, claiming “the evidence establishes (Pelham) paid male employees at a higher rate than the rate at which (Pelham) pays charging party.”

While awaiting her right-to-sue letter from the EEOC, Shepherd was terminated from her position by Waters on Nov. 7, 2012, the lawsuit claimed. Shepherd’s termination letter claimed her position “does not legally exist and does not appear in the inventory of classified positions.”

The lawsuit claimed Shepherd held four positions with the city after the three previous Civic Complex employees were terminated, and claimed her termination notice “does not specify which position ‘does not legally exist.’” The lawsuit also claimed Shepherd was fired as “retaliation” for filing the first EEOC complaint.

Shepherd received her right-to-sue letter from the EEOC on Nov. 27, 2012 and filed a second EEOC complaint on Nov. 30, 2012 alleging she was retaliated against for filing the first EEOC complaint.

Through the suit, Shepherd is seeking, among other things, back pay, front pay, injunctive relief, “liquidated damages for willful violation of the Equal Pay Act” and “compensatory damages for the loss of wages and loss of benefits.”

Pelham Mayor Gary Waters said he was unable to comment on the pending legal matter.

“There’s really not a whole lot I can say about that right now,” Waters said on March 12. “We’re just going to let it play out over time.”