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SC Highway Patrolman says he faces racial discrimination. Now he's suing

A South Carolina Highway Patrolman says he faced harassment, discrimination and was denied promotions while working for the Horry County troop, and now he's filed a lawsuit against the law enforcement agency.

In response, the South Carolina Department of Public Safety argues that an investigation determined his claims were "unfounded."

Earlier this year, Tracey L. Phillips filed a lawsuit against the South Carolina Department of Public Safety. The suit started in an Horry County court, but has since moved to federal court in South Carolina.

According to the filing, Phillips, a black man, started at the agency in January 2008 as a highway patrolman for Troop-5, Post-D, which is Horry County. He currently is a lance corporal.

During that time, Phillips faced excessive supervision, stricter disciplinary measures and discretionary rules that only applied to him, according to the suit.

Officials also denied him a license plate reader, and he faced aggressive and increasingly hostile treatment by Sgt. C.D. Causey, according to the filing. Phillips complained to other supervisors, but they took no action, the suit states.

Phillips also received a negative performance evaluation, despite his work being at or above the level of other officers, the suit contends.

In December 2013, Phillips filed a formal complaint. Weeks later he was transferred to a different patrol zone in the area farther away from his home and more isolated than his previous area, the filing argues. On one occasion, he asked to leave his patrol zone to go home for contact lenses. During that trip, Phillips stopped a car for speeding only to be reprimanded about why he stopped a car outside his zone, and he was also told that he shouldn't leave his area without informing a supervisor, the suit says.

In early 2014, Phillips filed a retaliation complaint. He also was denied outside employment opportunities, the suit says.

Phillips' filing argues that he also is continually denied promotions for which he is qualified.

The suit alleges race discrimination, retaliation, negligence and other claims. It asks for an unspecified amount of money.

The S.C. Department of Public Safety filed a response to the lawsuit and denied that Phillips was subject to unlawful actions. It also noted that the agency investigated the claims and decided they were "unfounded."

The agency denied many of the statements and allegations made in the initial lawsuit. The answer says Phillips did not take steps to offset any damages he may have suffered. It also states that he did not suffer adverse employment because of religion, age, gender, race or other protected basis, according to court records.

Capt. Kelley Hughes told The Sun News that Phillips is currently employed with the agency. But, the department does not comment on pending litigation.

The Sun News reached out to Phillips' attorney, who did not respond in time for this report.

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