A former Greenville Technical College official has sued to get her job back after she was fired for referring to some hurricane evacuees “yard apes.”
Renee Holcombe, a former associate vice president of student affairs, was fired in September after twice referring to an evacuee-assistance plan as “sending the big yellow boxes to the Palmetto Center to pick up the yard apes,” her lawsuit says.
According to the suit, the phrase was meant as a humorous and affectionate reference to school children, not as a racial slur.
A member of her staff told her that “yard apes” was insulting to Blacks and Holcombe later called a meeting of employees who attended briefings to apologize, the suit says.
Greenville Tech President Tom Barton declined to respond to specific allegations but said, “It’s really out of our hands. I know zero about it.”
The suit asks the college to pay legal fees and unspecified damages, along with reinstatement to her job. “She’s given most of her career to the school, and she didn’t want to give it up,” said her lawyer Melvin Hutson.
She had appealed her case to the state Budget and Control Board, which said she failed to show her resignation was involuntary.
According to the suit, a college official promised Holcombe a neutral reference, pay and ability to draw unemployment benefits if she resigned.
Holcombe says she agreed to sign a resignation statement, but alleges that school officials violated an agreement not to talk publicly about the situation, according to the suit.
— Associated Press
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