Former employee sues Citadel for allegedly violating civil rights laws
A former female tactical officer is suing The Citadel and another employee at the military college for allegedly creating a hostile and discriminatory work environment, which included being taunted with pornographic images, animal feces and racial and sexist slurs.
Lashonna Alece Wood filed the lawsuit July 31 in U.S. District Court in Charleston against The Citadel and Rodney Bostick, a student and military veteran. The lawsuit does not make clear where Bostick worked at the school.
According to the suit, The Citadel engaged in unlawful policies and practices to discriminate and retaliate against Wood, creating a hostile and discriminatory work environment in violation of federal civil rights laws. Bostick also circulated photographs, alledgedly of Wood, that were inappropriate, including a nude photograph, which he presented to the school’s provost, the suit said.
As a result of the treatment she endured as an employee, and for standing up for female and minority cadets, she suffered “severe mental distress and was forced to seek medical treatment, take leave and seek counseling,” the lawsuit stated. She is seeking unspecified actual and punitive damages, and legal fees.
Wood began working at The Citadel in 2009; the lawsuit doesn’t make clear when she left.
Joy Stoney, one of Wood’s lawyers, said Wood would not comment on the case. Stoney did not return calls for answers to follow-up questions. She would not say whether the photos that were circulated were of Wood.
Citadel lawyer Dawes Cooke said he is familiar with the lawsuit, but he can’t comment on pending litigation. He also said the school planned to defend itself vigorously, and thinks The Citadel will prevail in the end.
Wood, a Berkeley County resident, was a tactical officer, which is an employee who provides guidance and leadership to the Corps of Cadets and promotes high standards in academics, military performance and physical fitness.
She is a military veteran, black, over 40 years old and disabled, which makes her a member of a protected class under federal civil rights laws. She alleged that during her employment at The Citadel:
The school allowed a hostile environment for her and female and minority students to continue, despite her complaints.
Male cadets called female students derogatory terms.
Racial slurs were used to describe black students.
Male tactical officers exposed themselves.
Raccoon feces were placed outside her door
A male body part was drawn on her office door.
The school retaliated against her when she complained of unequal treatment.
Reach Diane Knich at 937-5491 or on Twitter @dianeknich.