A resolution to the ongoing dispute between the former director of Charleston County's three airports and the board overseeing them could be in the works.
Mediation between the two parties is set for June 23, and Charleston County Aviation Authority has called a special meeting for Monday to give board members a legal update on the issue.
The update will involve the best course of action to possibly resolve the gender discrimination complaint ex-airports director Sue Steven filed last fall, Aviation Authority Chairman Andy Savage said.
Stevens resigned in July, not mincing words about some board members and how they treated her.
No financial amount has been put on the table by either side, according to Savage and Stevens' attorney, Nancy Bloodgood. That probably won't occur until the day of mediation, they said.
"We have gotten to an important juncture in this case, and as chairman it is my obligation to inform the board of its stature," Savage said.
He said several of the representatives on the 13-member airport board do not want to compromise, but the Charleston defense attorney believes it's time to put the case to rest.
"I think it's in all of our best interests to get it resolved," Savage said. "We need to move on. There is a great incentive on my part to bring this case to closure without violating any principles of the Aviation Authority."
The sudden movement to move toward mediation comes as the prospect of a federal lawsuit looms. The 180-day period ended last week since the authority was first served last fall with the complaint filed with the S.C. Human Affairs Commission and the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
That opens the door for Stevens' attorney to move forward with a federal lawsuit. Bloodgood said she has not filed the suit, but is prepared if mediation fails.
The Aviation Authority knows a protracted public legal battle would continue to dredge up and prolong the internal turbulence that has rocked the agency over the past two years.
Stevens alleges that because she's a woman, she was belittled and talked down to by some authority members of what was at the time an all-male board. While her complaint for now isn't public, her letter of departure in July gave a glimpse of her grievance.
"They believe I am an incompetent woman," Stevens wrote of some board members. "Several male members ... belittle me due to my gender. No man would be treated in this way."
Bloodgood said the original goal, including a fair settlement, was to compel changes in what some have called a "dysfunctional board" that would have benefited the policy-making process of the agency and the community.
The goal now is to settle the case.
"It looks like we are making progress," Bloodgood said.
Reach Warren L. Wise at 937-5524 or twitter.com/warrenlancewise.
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