Brian Berger accuses New Hanover County of discrimination
WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Former New Hanover County Commissioner Brian Berger has filed an employment discrimination charge against the county.
Berger claims he was harassed and eventually forced from office because he has autism; meanwhile there are new developments in his amotion appeal.
Berger’s autism first came to light when his attorney mentioned it during Berger’s May 20 amotion hearing when county commissioners voted to remove Berger from the board.
In the complaint filed last week with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Berger accuses the county of violating the federal Americans with
Berger marked boxes for “retaliation” and “disability” as the reasons why he feels he was discriminated against.
In the complaint Berger states, “I was subjected to harassment and intimidation and discharged because of my disability and in retaliation for participating in protected activity.”
County spokesman Charles Smith says the county has not yet responded to the charge.
Meanwhile Smith says the judge handling Berger’s amotion appeal has granted the county’s request for a protective order to stop Berger and his lawyer from gathering information from the Wilmington Police Department and the District Attorney’s Office about Berger’s arrests, as well as from deposing Commissioners Jonathan Barfield and Woody White.
The county argued it was pointless to gather more evidence, when it cannot be presented at this point in the process.
Also on Monday, both the county’s and Berger’s attorneys filed supplemental briefs in the appeal.
The county says it did not deny Berger’s due process rights and gave Berger every opportunity to dispute the claims against him during the amotion hearing, but Berger’s attorney says commissioners did not provide adequate notice of all the rules for the amotion hearing.
The county again detailed many reasons why commissioners wanted to remove Berger from office, including arrests for domestic violence, driving while impaired and his frequently erratic behavior, which all made for a hostile work environment for county employees.
Berger’s attorney contends those claims do not rise to the level needed to remove an elected official from office.
We tried to talk to county commissioners but the only one we were able to get a hold of was Commissioner Barfield who said they were instructed not to comment by their attorney.
We also reached out to Berger’s attorney Chris Anglin but he wasn’t available for an on camera interview. He did however say that a ruling on the amotion appeal should be made in September.
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