The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

March 13, 2013

City workers to receive settlement

Nature of civil rights complaint kept confidential

By Katie Dahlstrom
Herald Staff Writer

CLINTON — Twelve current and former city of Clinton employees will receive a piece of $150,000 settlement over complaints that the city allegedly violated the Iowa and federal civil rights statutes.

Raymond Hickey, Robert Fore Jr., Jonathan Raes, Thomas Dopson, Amby Johnson Jr., Timothy Nielsen, Larry Melvin Jr., Gary Vath, James Pope, Scott Bengston and Scott Smith, all of whom are or were city employees in the streets and sanitation department, each filed Equal Employment Opportunity complaints with the Iowa Civil Rights Commission alleging violation of their civil rights.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is responsible for enforcing federal laws that make it illegal to discriminate against a job applicant or an employee because of the person's race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy), national origin, age (40 or older), disability or genetic information.

The Iowa Civil Rights Commission is the state agency enforcing the Iowa Civil Rights Act, which covers discrimination in employment, housing, public accommodations, credit, and education. The commission receives, investigates and resolves complaints that allege discrimination. Under Iowa Code, the complaints are confidential.

The complaints were filed with the ICRC on Feb. 21, 2012 and the city was informed on March 1, 2012. The initial complaint dates to June 1, 2011.

 City Attorney Jeff Farwell explained to members of the Clinton City Council during the Committee of the Whole meeting on Tuesday night that after its initial review and investigation, the ICRC made the recommendation to further investigate the complaints. Farwell then consulted with the city's Iowa Communities Assurance Pool (ICAP) lawyer and they decided the city should try to mediate the claims.

The mediation occurred last week and spanned nearly seven hours, Farwell said.

On Tuesday night, council members approved a settlement over the complaints, which will need to receive final approval during a regular council meeting.  

According to the terms of the settlement, the city will be liable for a $1,000 deductible per claim, which adds up to $12,000. The remaining $138,000 will be covered by the city’s risk assurance pool provider, ICAP. The money will be divided among the complainants.

As part of the settlement, the city has agreed to pay for a presentation from a third party that will be made to members of the streets and sanitation department regarding workplace harassment.

The settlement further stipulates that the city will remove any adverse disciplinary action that may have been taken with regard to, or arising out of, the subject matter of the complaints from the employees’ personnel files.   

Complainants will agree to forever discharge the city from any claim, liability, promises, actions or damages they may have against the city relating to or arising out of the pending ICRC and EEOC claims.