Lee County official claims discrimination, defamation
Photo: Video by fox4now.com
LEE COUNTY, Fla. - Lee County's Director of Fleet Management claims she's the victim of discrimination and defamation.....by her own boss. But one commissioner says that Director is the one who has discriminated against an employee and he wants her investigated. It's an update to a Fox 4 investigation and Four in your Corner's Mike Mason is here now with the latest.
Last year we found Fleet Director Marilyn Rawlings was accused of religious discrimination by a Muslim employee.....now Rawlings is turning to an attorney; claiming she's the one being discriminated against.
It all began in 2009, when former Fleet employee Nuray Carter received an email from her boss, Fleet Director Marilyn Rawlings. Carter's a Muslim, so when she opened a video attachment which she says featured overtones of terrorism, she was devastated.
Nuray Carter: "She just clearly says that she really believes that Muslim people are terrorist people. She actually made comments about other employees like their religion, they weren't Christian."
Carter then filed a complaint with Lee County's Office of Equal Opportunity. As a result, Rawlings was suspended without pay for 2 days.
Brian Bigelow: "I saw that report and my jaw dropped, I was aghast at the damning evidence against Mrs. Rawlings for having violated and discriminated against this woman's religious rights and I felt the 2 day suspension was a slap on the wrist."
Now Rawlings is the one claiming she's the victim of discrimination. Her lawyer sending a letter to the County Attorney stating in part: "Ms. Rawlings is being subjected to unlawful conduct....including defamation....and potential charter violations...(due in part to ) the alleged actions of County Commissioner Brian Bigelow."
Brian Bigelow: "It's a shot at me because I'm the one who asked for Mrs. Carter's investigation file all because of your reporting."
After watching our report last year, Bigelow began his own investigation, demanding all documents related to Rawlings' investigation. He says the County Attorney refused to provide them until last month.....more than a year later.
Brian Bigelow: "Now granted, anyone in the public could just ask for the files, public records and be granted it so of course my curiosity was peaked, I had to look into it further."
Now that Bigelow has the files he wants the county to re-open the investigation into Rawlings and consider a more serious discipline. He feels Rawlings is now turning to an attorney to keep that from happening.
Brian Bigelow: "This is her lawyer trying to, I guess, intimidate me to not do my job but I can't be afraid of these kinds of things."
We left messages for Marilyn Rawlings and her attorney but have not yet heard back.