COLUMBIA, S.C. -- A former employee of the South Carolina agency that polices workplace safety has received $120,000 to settle a dispute over his firing.

The State newspaper reports that the state Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation admits no wrongdoing in its settlement with Mark Kelly, who was fired in fall 2011. The State obtained the December settlement through a public records request.

At the agency, Kelly investigated complaints against nurses. The 52-year-old is now a consultant.

He claimed he was fired for comments he made about faith and patriotism that agency leaders considered contrary to a goal of encouraging diversity.

Then-LLR director Catherine Templeton said he was fired for intimidation and harassment, not for his beliefs. Templeton is now director of the state’s public health and environmental control agency.

--

Information from: The State, http://www.thestate.com