Former Lumberton police officer sues city for wrongful termination

By HASKEL BURNS,

A former Lumberton Police Department officer is suing the city for wrongful termination, saying she was let go from her position because she is a woman.

According to documents filed in U.S. Federal Court, Tiffany McClure – who was the only woman serving on the force at the time – was terminated from her position with no just or reasonable cause on Jan. 12, 2018. The decision was made by then-Chief Shane Flynt, who the document alleges made numerous gender-biased comments and statements of his desire to employ only male police officers in the city.

“Plaintiff was terminated from her employment from her position as a police officer with the City of Lumberton as a result of her female gender,” the document states. “Plaintiff’s termination as a police officer by the City of Lumberton was in violation of federal law.

“The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission investigated this matter and issued a Notice of Suit Rights letter.”

The document states that McClure – who is being represented by Hattiesburg attorney Carey Varnado – has suffered loss of wages and income, mental and emotional distress, damage to her reputation, loss of fringe benefits, and other damages as a result of the termination. McClure is seeking all damages to which she is entitled by law, particularly back wages from the city.

“Plaintiff is also entitled to punitive damages in an amount sufficient to punish the Defendant City of Lumberton for its intentional and egregious acts against her and to deter others similarly situated from unlawful discrimination on the basis of sex,” the document reads. “Plaintiff further prays that there be judgment against Defendant awarding her reasonable attorney’s fees pursuant federal law and that Defendant be ordered to pay all costs of this action.”

McClure is the second Lumberton police officer to sue the city in the last five months, as former Chief Carlus Page is suing for religious discrimination and retaliation. Page, who was removed as chief in August 2018 and reclassified as a police officer, alleges the city violated an agreement to have most Sundays off in his capacity as pastor of New Heights Church of Christ in Biloxi.

Page is requesting back wages and reinstatement to the position of chief. In lieu of that, he is seeking future wages, compensatory damages, punitive damages, attorney’s fees and other expenses.