The highly unusual handling of the Robinson complaint and settlement

 WINNSBORO – After the county settled a $50,000 complaint from former county employee Diana Robinson, the wife of County Councilman Neil Robison, questions remain.

Why did the county pay for the entire settlement from the general fund? No lawsuit was filed and there is no evidence in almost 200 documents that The Voice received in response to an FOI request to the county that the county’s insurer through the S.C. Association of Counties handled the settlement with Robinson.

After interviewing some council members and reviewing hundreds of pages of documentation, it appears that the complaint and settlement were largely handled by County Administrator Malik Whitaker, the county’s attorney Charles Boykin and the county’s employment attorney Fred Williams with the law firm of Gignilliat Savitz & Bettis LLP.

County Council members Douglas Pauley and Clarence Gilbert and other county officials say the negotiations for the settlement were conducted outside standard county procedures and that given the unusual circumstances, council should have been informed.

“Ms. Robinson resigned on Sept. 16 of last year, and from then until we were asked to vote on a settlement last month, council members were never told about any ongoing complaints made by Ms. Robinson or that there was anything going on about a settlement, an EEOC complaint or any other employment complaint,” Pauley said.

“We (council) were never, not once, updated or officially informed about anything to do with her resignation or any complaints until June 13, 2022, nine months after her resignation, when we went in to an executive session and were told that if we didn’t settle with Ms. Robinson, that she might sue the county,” he continued.

Asked by The Voice this week when he learned about the EEOC complaints, the mediation and the proposed settlement, County Councilman Moses Bell said he found everything out at the same time everyone else found out, during the executive session on June 13, 2022, that he was not aware of what was going on with the complaint and negotiations.

“At the night of the executive session, we all received documents from our employment counsel, Mr. Williams. We all received the same document that included a recommendation. The two pieces of paper had a bunch of information on it and, based on that information, we came out of executive session and a motion was made to award a settlement based on the recommendation of our attorney,” Bell said.

Bell went on to say he had not been involved with the Robinson matter at all or at any time before the June 13, 2022 executive session.

At press time, The Voice had been unable to reach the other council members for interviews about the issue.

While a charge of discrimination was filed by Robinson with the Equal Employment Office Commission (EEOC) in September 2021, and an amended charge of discrimination filed in March 2022, there is no documentation that the EEOC or the SC Human Affairs Commission issued a decision on the complaint.

In a draft letter dated Jan. 25, 2022, from Williams to the EEOC in answer to Robinson’s September 2021 complaint, Williams stated, in conclusion, that “Ms. Robinson’s charges should be dismissed with a ‘no cause’ finding.”

In a revised letter to the EEOC, dated the next day, Jan. 26, 2022, Williams made an about-face conclusion that, “Fairfield County is open to reaching a resolution of this charge with Ms. Robinson through the mediation process. To that end, the County asks that this matter be submitted to the Commission’s mediation department.”

In that same letter, it is noted that when Robinson left the county, “Brad Caulder was serving as Interim County Administrator of Fairfield County.”

It also stated that a new administrator had been hired who was not involved when Robinson left the county.

It is not clear who within the county actually handled Robinson’s complaints and settlement negotiations, but Caulder made it clear in an email he sent to council members on June 24, 2022, which was obtained by The Voice through an FOIA request, that he had not been included in mediation and did not know a settlement was going to be proposed.

“I have recently learned of a council vote offering to settle an employment claim of a former employee against the county that occurred during my time as Interim Administrator,” Caulder wrote. “I have also learned it has been communicated to council there is no documentation available from me regarding this matter. If council has reached the point of making a decision to settle a case involving my decisions during my time as Interim Administrator, I would think council would offer me an opportunity to explain and provide documentation regarding the circumstances before making such an unprecedented decision.

“This has been an ongoing concern of mine since I ended my time as Interim Administrator. I have also not had the opportunity to personally defend my decisions regarding this case with the EEOC/SCHAC.” Caulder wrote.

Caulder stated in the email that he had also not been involved with any mediation between the county and the claimant which, he said, is unusual.

“There has been council involvement in this matter which is concerning,” he wrote.

“To my knowledge,” he wrote, “normal protocol of filing employment cases with the Association of Counties for liability defense has not been followed which is also extremely concerning.”

“I don’t know why we were all kept in the dark,” Councilman Douglas Pauley said. “I don’t know why Mr. Caulder, who handled the issue to begin with, was not included in the mediation. There are a lot of questions. At this point we don’t really know who was in charge of handling this. And we don’t know why such a big settlement was made without all of council reviewing all the documentation. We should have at least known that there was a complaint so that we could have asked questions and investigated.”

According to state law section 4-9-660, while council members normally deal with county officers and employees through the county administrator, they are allowed to ask questions and become involved “for the purposes of inquiries and investigations.” 

Note: The Voice has since received a text from Councilwoman Shirley Green saying only that she, “didn’t know about the settlement until executive session.”

Comments

  1. Mike Bell (NO RELATON TO MOSES) says

    Liars! Liars! Liars!

    If the attorney wrote EEOC a letter to dismiss the claim, he was doing his job with evidence from the case files. Later turning around asking for mediation clearly shows, he got that directive to do so from Whitaker or Bell. This is clear interference in this matter. Moses claiming, he knew nothing is a bald face lie. These liars think they are smart, just plain stupid. To prove their integrity, ask Whitaker and Bell to be polygraphed to show the citizens how honest they are. Let see what they say!!!
    SLED needs to interview Fred Williams the attorney, he will tell the truth because he would not want to lose his law license for these liars.
    Whitaker needs to be Fired! Bell and the other four needs to be removed

  2. JEFF SCHAFFER says

    Thieves and Liars all gather on a Monday night to rip off the public.
    I’M SICK OF THEIR ACTIONS.

    JEFF SCHAFFER

  3. Peter Gainey says

    What can we do that we have not done to expose this corruption within county council: SC Attorney General has been notified, news stations have been contacted to report this…is there recourse to remove council members???

    Peter Gainey

  4. Speaking of untruths. In Monday nights meeting we heard 2 council members Mr. Pauley and Gilbert the (gruesome twosome) make statements they knew or should have known were untrue. They stated Winnsboro had not voting and approved an item on the county agenda yet so why was the county council already discussing the FILO for school district project. Last Tue. ( 6 days before county meeting ) their town council voted on and unanimously approved the request. Pauley stated “ I checked with them…”. and they said they haven’t approved. Who’s misspeaking here? Humans make mistakes and misspeak but when you back up your accusations with “ I checked” then voters should be able to trust you are telling the truth. What is the purpose of these false statements, just to pull the county down? Check for facts on YouTube and call Winnsboro and ask how they voted on the resolution. Just making it up as you go?

  5. One more try. In this past county council meeting on Monday night two council members made false statements during council time to speak. Mr. Pauley and Gilbert stated Winnsboro had not approved the schools project for it’s project. The town council had approved it 6 days before the counties meeting. One council member stated ” I checked”. So I guess the liars club as called in above comments is larger by 2. Check YOUTUBE and call the town and you can double check these facts. Why would any council person go out of their way to make these false statements? Just to get reelected? We have enough issues without making up stories. Not illegal but misstatements on purpose?. Previous comment on this was erased by this paper so I guess under our free speech paper we can only post positive comments concerning the council members this paper supports.

  6. Mike Bell (NO RELATON TO MOSES) says

    Mr. Gainey:

    If SLED or the Governor’s Office don’t help us the only true method is at the voting box (election). We need to elect People with integrity and ethics. These 5 and administration needs to be indicted for fraud and mismanagement. The lies they tell in the council meeting on how great the projects are doing (waterline) with no supports from either of the Towns is just for show. Who would want to work with people who lie so easily and professionally? I give them one thing they are Professional Liars.
    Fairfield County has been set back 15 years by these 5 members.

    • Mr. Gainey please watch the last meeting on YOUTUBE and you can add Pauley and Gilbert to your list. No one has to prove what they said was 100% incorrect or crudely stated a lie. Pls. try to look at both sides and don’t drink the cool aide while you and others are being played. Gilbert is pulling against his own county to receive a grant, now is that good for the county and recruitment of industry? Vote for candidates that are for growth in this decade.

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