MOBILE, Ala. (WALA) - An Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) Charge of Discrimination alleging the city of Mobile’s former Senior Director of Public Works, Greg Beckham, made sexually harassing comments to a female subordinate was filed in January 2018, according to attorney Ed Smith, of Mobile.
Smith, who represents the female Public Works employee who filed the charge, said Beckham, “made a variety of comments to my client she felt were… sexually harassing.”
Smith also said when his client told Beckham “she did not appreciate, nor approve of, the sexually harassing comments, he threatened to terminate her.”
Smith said that conduct could be considered retaliation, which is illegal, and Smith said the “alleged sexual harassment and retaliation were the basis for the allegations in (his client’s) EEOC charge.”
Smith explained the city of Mobile filed a response to the Charge of Discrimination against Beckham, but could not disclose exactly what the city said in its response, other than it made a general denial of the allegations.
Smith said the EEOC is still investigating the charge, and he expects the EEOC will make a decision soon.
In the meantime, FOX10 News has been conducting its own investigation into the purported turmoil at Public Works.
FOX10 News Investigates obtained more than a year of emails sent by Beckham, and his former boss, the city’s former Executive Director of Public Works, Bill Harkins.
In May 2017, Beckham sent an email to several members of his staff with a meme of himself, carrying the message, “I don’t always have problems with my staff, but when I do, I place them in the box. Stay loyal my friends.”
In response to Beckham’s meme, one office manager wrote to Beckham, “you trying to tell me something?”
Beckham responded to her, “you are safe!”
Just a couple of days before Beckham sent out his box meme, one staff member under Beckham sent him an email writing, “I’ll be having a nice, ‘Box Free’ weekend.”
A current city employee, who wished to remain anonymous, said “the box” was a room in the back of the municipal garage, where supervisors were made to sit all day, instead of doing their regular work duties.
“There was really no justifiable reason for him to send anyone to the box,” said the employee. “It just depended on what list of his you were on, you were either on his good list or his bad list.”
Former employee Wesley Young told FOX10 News Investigates he wonders how many tax dollars have been wasted by people being sent to “the box.”
“All of this is a waste of tax dollars, and I hope the taxpayers understand that. This has never happened in the city,” said Young.
In July, Beckham sent out another email to several staff members with a link to a video about “boss haters.”
The video explained being a boss hater is the number one way to kill your career.
Harkins encouraged the message, responding to Beckham’s email by writing, “very cool!”
The city of Mobile said “the box” was a training program, in which supervisors were made to read training manuals, and it was terminated as soon as the administration was made aware of it on March 8.
However, many employees at Public Works told FOX10 News Investigates the city knew about it long before then.
FOX10 News Investigates reached out to the city Thursday evening for a comment about the EEOC charge, but has not heard back yet.
FOX10 News Investigates will keep you updated as officials release more information.