The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission found that former Coast RTA CEO Myers Rollins was fired in April 2014, in part, because he is black and because of his age, according to a letter of determination from the EEOC obtained by The Sun News through a Freedom of Information Act request.
Rollins filed an EEOC complaint after the Coast board fired him before a meeting more than two years ago. Michelle Cantey, spokeswoman for Coast RTA, said the agency is “in consultation with our attorney” and could not say whether Coast and Rollins were trying to negotiate a settlement, as recommended by the EEOC.
Stephen T. Savitz, of Columbia-based Gignilliat, Savitz & Bettis which is representing Coast RTA, declined to say whether the two parties are working on an agreement.
“The evidence supports charging party allegations of discharge based on race, black and age 63,” wrote Reuben Daniels, district director for the EEOC. “The evidence showed that several board members explicitly expressed bias against charging party because of his race and age with respect to assessing his performance which caused his discharge.”
Rollins said he is in talks to settle with Coast RTA, but would not elaborate on where those are.
“I will work with Coast RTA in a fair and professional manner,” Rollins said. “And I don’t want to do that through the media.”
Rollins faced criticism by Coast RTA board members and the Horry County Council, who funds the transit more than $1 million annually. The criticism mostly surrounded a failed bus shelter program where more than 70 bus shelters were supposed to be installed county wide. But, after several years of little progress, which Rollins has said had to do with failed coordination with municipalities, and zoning and underground cable issues, the S.C. Department of Transportation pulled the rug from under the project and asked to be reimbursed by more than $375,000.
Rollins sued SCDOT and two of its officials for civil conspiracy, interference with contractual relations, and defamation, but the lawsuit was thrown out in March.
“It is commission policy to notify each aggrieved person of the right to sue under the (Age Discrimination in Employment Act) for remedial relief, including recovery of backpay, an equal amount as liquidated damages, appropriate make-whole or injunctive relief, plus attorney’s fees and court costs,” Daniels said in the letter. “If the respondent declines to discuss settlement or when, for any reason, a settlement to the office director is not obtained, the director will inform the parties and advise them of the court enforcement alternatives available to aggrieved persons and the commission.”
Rollins received $134,500 annually when he was fired as CEO. After his firing, he received a pay out of more than $106,000 — more than $76,000 of which was severance pay.
Horry County Councilman Gary Loftus, who served on the Coast RTA board and was vocally critical of Rollins, refused to comment Wednesday because he had not seen the ruling.