Former Lee County EMS lieutenant investigated for sexist comments
A former member of Lee County EMS, who headed to North Carolina to give aid during the Hurricane Florence aftermath, is accused of sexist behavior.
Lieutenant Scott Phillips is accused of making sexist comments toward his female co-workers during the time period he was in North Carolina on assignment.
“He wasn’t being funny; he wasn’t being cute,” Dr. Laura Streyffeler said. “And it wasn’t an isolated incident. When it’s a pattern of behavior, it’s purposeful behavior.”
Streyffeler, a licensed mental health counselor, said cases like this one are more common than some might think.
“A hostile work environment is not okay,” Streyfeller said.
Three female co-workers said Philips made sexist comments to them throughout a 13-day trip they were all on to help victims of Florence.
According to a 60-page report, Phillips made the women uncomfortable, treated them like garbage, told them to shut their mouth and said they should do laundry “because it’s women’s work.”
Phillips told the women later the laundry remark was only meant as a joke, but investigators didn’t believe that and neither does Streyffeler.
“When it’s a pattern of behavior, that’s not a joke,” Streyffeler said. “The most critical piece in the work place is how the supervisor or whoever they talk to responds.”
Lee County responded quickly, opening an investigation four days after the team got back home. The team was interviewed individually, including the three women who were part of the team.
“Gives them the strength to tell their story because they say don’t want this person to do this to anybody else,” Streffeler said.
It wasn’t until earlier this year that Phillips stepped down, handwriting his resignation letter.
In total, this investigation found Phillips violated 11 county polices, including “Failing To Treat Fellow Employees In A Courteous Matter” and “Threatening Or Intimidating Employees.”
Dr. Streyffeler believes cases like this aren’t fully investigated.
“I think they’re way under reported,” Streyffeler said. “People want a paycheck. They want to feed their kids. They want to feed their pets and their partners. And they’re afraid, if they say something, they’ll lose their paycheck, or they won’t be believed.”