Upheaval seems to be the best word to associate with the Charleston County Aviation Authority, and it's not all about the terminal makeover disrupting traffic, airlines and passengers.

Remember Sue Stevens? She's the former director of Charleston's three airports who resigned in July with some pretty pointed words about some board members and how they treated her.

Through her attorney, Nancy Bloodgood, she filed a gender discrimination complaint with the S.C. Human Affairs Commission and the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission last fall. The authority has responded.

Two weeks ago, Stevens' attorney approached the agency about mediation, but she has received no response, Bloodgood said.

"We are not ready to come to you with anything," authority attorney Arnold Goodstein told the board last week.

Bloodgood suggested mediation because by around June 4 the clock runs out on the 180-day period since the authority was first served with the complaint. After that, Bloodgood can request a letter from Human Affairs and the EEOC allowing her to file a federal lawsuit.

With all the internal turbulence at the agency during the past two years, the board might choose to work things out to avoid a protracted public legal battle.

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 policymaking process of the agency and the community.

Reach Warren L. Wise at 937-5524.