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Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Muslim woman claims discrimination by Lee County Director

Lee County Fleet Director Marilyn Rawlings
A former Lee County worker says she was harassed and intimidated because of her religion by her own director. She has since quit her job and now says she wants to expose what is going on before someone else gets hurt. Marilyn Rawlings is the director of Lee County's Fleet Management Department. She has been recognized nationwide for doing an excellent job but one of her former employees feels that's the reason county officials let Rawlings off the hook.

Nuray and Rick Carter in Turkey
 When Nuray Carter received a controversial video about terrorism and high gas prices from her director she felt it discriminated against Muslims and was the last straw. Carter is from turkey. She and her husband still visit her native country and it's no secret she's Muslim but when she worked for Lee County's Fleet Management she says her boss, Fleet Director Marilyn Rawlings, told others too. Carter says Rawlings, “told other employees, some of the employees that if they knew I was a Muslim that it would be a problem."

Rawlings received the 2010 Fleet Masters Award and is well known in the industry. Carter says there's another side to Rawlings, "They told me retaliation never happens in the county, I am a perfect example."

In 2007, soon after Carter began working at Fleet, she felt intimidated by Rawlings' remarks. Carter contends, "She actually made comments about other employees like their religion, they weren't Christian.”
Carter believes Marilyn Rawlings is a devout Christian who has issues with Carter because she is not. Four in your Corner spoke with Rawlings who denies she has a problem with Carter's religion but she refused to comment any further on the issue.

Carter says she felt intimidated when Rawlings handed her an invitation to attend church for an Easter mass in Fort Myers. Her husband, Rick Carter, also believes Rawlings “Has a problem with her religion."

Rick Carter has been married to Nuray for ten years. He remembers when Rawlings invited them to a barbeque in Alva that turned out to be something completely different. He says, "I felt like they ambushed her." After dinner, the Carters say everyone was sent into a room for a prayer session. Rick Carter says the group was then told, “You guys were invited here and you brought your friends here so they may come to know Jesus type of thing.” The Carters say they were never told the party had anything to do with religion. Rick Carter says, “I was shocked, I was like ‘what are they doing?’ ‘Why are they doing this?’ and Nuray was just sitting there next to Marilyn and I felt sorry for her I was just like this is crazy."

Carter says the dinner party was an event designed to convert people to Christianity but Rawlings never mentioned that part. When Four in your Corner spoke with Rawlings about this she admitted the dinner party was a "church function" and Carter should have known this. She also says Carter could have left the party if she felt offended because quote "She wasn't being held captive."

Instead, Carter went to Lee County's Human Resources to discuss the issues she had with Rawlings. She says she had already gone to her supervisors but they didn't care, "When I keep complaining they told me that this is the way it is you can either like deal with it or you have to find a different job."

In February, 2009 Marilyn Rawlings sent an email to Carter at work with a video attached. It was a controversial video about terrorism and high gas prices. Rick Carter says, “I was just disgusted with it I was angry and disgusted." Nuray Carter feels Rawlings made a strong statement by sending that video and “she just clearly says that she really believes that Muslim people are terrorist people."
At that point Carter was devastated. She filed a complaint with Lee County's Office of Equal Opportunity.

Four months later, the investigator found "Director Rawlings did indeed send the email in question to Ms. Carter in violation of Lee County policies." As a result, the county suspended Rawlings without pay for two days. Carter feels that punishment is just a slap on the wrist. She now questions whether the county's Office of Equal Opportunity is really impartial since it *is* a county agency and officials are essentially investigating themselves. Carter says, "It's great they have that but I think when they keep it under the county it's protection for the county not the employees."
Marilyn Rawlings

Marilyn Rawlings refused to comment on the EOC investigation. She did say Carter is a 'disgruntled employee' and there's more to the story but she would not go into details

To view the Fox 4 report click here:

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