published Tuesday, October 1st, 2013

Fort Oglethorpe, Ga., detective files federal harassment complaint against city


Fort Oglethorpe Detective Tammy Davis, right, speaks as attorney McCracken Poston listens during a 2012 meeting of the Fort Oglethorpe city council to hear testimony about council member Charles Sharrock.
Fort Oglethorpe Detective Tammy Davis, right, speaks as attorney McCracken Poston listens during a 2012 meeting of the Fort Oglethorpe city council to hear testimony about council member Charles Sharrock.
Photo by Angela Lewis /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Tammy Davis, a Fort Oglethorpe police detective whose sexual harassment complaint helped get Councilman Charles Sharrock kicked off the City Council last year, now says she's the victim of a hostile work environment created by the council, Mayor Lynn Long and police Chief Jeff Holcomb.

A four-page form that Davis, 36, filed last week with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission alleges she's a continuing victim of years of harassment and unequal treatment at the hands of city officials who are trying to get rid of her as retaliation.

For example, Davis alleges that after the birth of her second child in 2013, she was "humiliated in front of her entire division because she asked if she could wear blue jeans one day a week because she did not have any pants that would fit her since she gave birth and had retained weight. [She] was forced to go to Walmart with her [lieutenant] so he could shop for pants with her."

Davis also alleges she's being treated unfairly for damaging city police vehicles, including in 2009 when she drove her patrol car through standing water at the police station exit, damaging the engine. Davis states she wasn't at fault, because it was the only exit from the police department. The City Council wanted to fire her, then-police Chief David Eubanks told Davis. Eubanks refused, so she got a written reprimand instead.

In 2010, Davis pulled over a suspected drunken driver who backed into her patrol car. City Councilman Johnny "Red" Smith, who was driving by, assumed Davis caused the wreck, the complaint states, and immediately contacted Eubanks, asking him to fire Davis.

She received a five-day suspension in 2012, the complaint states, after her first at-fault accident. Eubanks was instructed then to present the case to city council members so they could fire Davis, the complaint alleges.

"No ... male officer has been treated in a similar manner," Davis complaint reads.

Holcomb and Smith refer to Davis, who is Fort Oglethorpe's only female detective, as "that girl," the complaining states. In 2011, after a dispute between the City Council and another detective regarding his purchase of socks with the city's clothing allowance, the complaint alleges that Smith told Eubanks, "if we buy all the men socks, we will have to buy that girl bras."

Davis' attorney Stuart James said Davis also has been singled out unfairly for making a Facebook page and for handling evidence since returning from maternity leave.

The federal complaint says Davis is entitled to damages such as emotional distress, loss of income and attorney's fees.

Smith declined to comment, since Davis filed a lawsuit alleging gender harassment and discrimination against the city, City Manager Harold Silcox, the mayor and each city councilman in Catoosa County Superior Court on June 12.

Holcomb is out of the office until Thursday.

Long said, "If she's being singled out, it's a surprise to me. I don't deal in personnel issues. That's not my job."

When Sharrock was ousted from the City Council at a Nov. 27, 2012, hearing, Davis testified that on Oct. 9, Sharrock approached her in the police department, put his arm around her and began rubbing up and down her back.

Davis had recently returned from a five-day suspension for wrecking her car. She said she had just found out Sharrock had defended her work performance before the council prior to her suspension. After Davis told Sharrock she was fine, he laughed and said: "I don't know why, but I like this girl," and then kissed her on the jawbone.

At the four-hour hearing, two other female employees testified that Sharrock had behaved similarly, prompting council members to unanimously vote him off the council.

Contact staff writer Tim Omarzu at tomarzu@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6651.

about Tim Omarzu...

Tim Omarzu covers education for the Times Free Press. Omarzu is a longtime journalist who has worked as a reporter and editor at daily and weekly newspapers in Michigan, Nevada and California.

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