Barnwell police chief quits, files federal discrimination complaint
BARNWELL, S.C. (WRDW/WAGT) - Barnwell’s police chief has resigned and filed a discrimination complaint with the U.S. Equal Opportunity Employment Commission over what he calls a hostile work environment.
Lamaz S. Robinson submitted his resignation letter to Mayor Marcus Rivera on Sept. 12 with a suggested last employment date of Nov. 30. However, Robinson told News 12 that the Barnwell City Council on Tuesday moved that date up to Sept. 26.
Meanwhile, he’s been hired as deputy city manager for Allendale, he said.
In his resignation letter to Barnwell, he says he has been experiencing the hostile work environment since he was appointed police chief a little over two years ago, but it’s gotten worse since the swearing-in of some council members in 2022.
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“I have been unable to make changes without being highly scrutinized or questioned about my decisions,” he writes.
He names a council member he says “interferes with investigations of the police department and interjects himself into matters involving police work while trying to cause what I believe to be division among the citizens and police department employees.”
Robinson states the council member tries “to use his position as a council member to circumvent the process and procedures that are in place for everyone.”
“This same council member (Ron Still) I feel has discriminated against me based on my gender and I say this because he refers to me as “he/she” in an email that was previously sent out on June 8, 2023, which led to the filing of an EEOC complaint against the city among with some other issues,” Robinson writes.
He notes in his letter that under his leadership, the Barnwell Police Department has reduced crime and strengthened the police force and infrastructure of the department while remaining in line with the budget.
“I am proud to have served with the great men and women of the Barnwell Police Department,” he writes. “It is because of their hard work and professionalism that this city today is safer.”
READ THE LETTER:
In his discrimination complaint dated July 27, Robinson states, in part:
“Since beginning my employment, I have been ostracized, and treated differently by members of City Council and City Staff. Examples include not being issued a city credit card to pay for various work-related conferences; denial On-call wages, and lack of cooperation from the Sheriff, who refuses to talk to me about matters dealing with public safety and other issues. Yet, employees (White) in similar leadership positions, are not treated the same as me, or denied the same benefits. On June 8, 2023, I became aware of an email sent to members of the Council, in which the writer uses the term he/she in a generalized context, while explaining the process for a current employee to provide additional information regarding a questionable incident, I was offended by this term as I believe that I am the subject of the email, and I have always preferred to be addressed in male pronouns.”
Robinson says his understanding is that the EEOC has asked for a response from the city. The EEOC could conduct an investigation, which could lead to charges.
Before being hired in Barnwell, he served with the Johnston Police Department.
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