A former Deputy City Attorney for the City of Jackson says she was fired in December 2014 because she was white. Lara Gill sued Jackson in U.S. District Court Wednesday for damages suffered caused by her wrongful termination and discrimination.
Ms. Gill was a Deputy City Attorney from July, 2008 to December, 2014. She worked in the Litigation Division. Ms. Gill states she questioned some of the practices of the new administration shortly after it took office in May, 2014. City Attorney Monica Joiner "restructured" the office and moved Ms. Gill from Litigation to Municipal Court. Ms. Gill argued she was the most experienced litigator and had no experience in criminal prosecutions. Ms. Gill is also white. She asked why she was being transferred when black deputy city attorneys "with less litigation experience but municipal court experience was not transferred." Then the real fun started:
19. The first day that Gill went to the Prosecutor's office to begin her "reassignment" work, Gill was unable to access her old office located at the City Attorney's Office. Gill was later advised that the City Attorney had the locks changed to the doors to where Gill's old office was located, and further advised that the locks being changed was a "new policy" the City Attorney had instituted.
20. On December 2, 2014, approximately two days after Gill presented herself to work at the prosecutor's office, Gill received a memo from the City Attorney making various allegations against Gill and requesting Gill to respond in less than 24 hours. Gill requested additional time from the City Attorney to respond to the December 2, 2014 Memo, but was refused. Gill responded to City Attorney's December 2, 2014 Memo the best she could within the limited time she was provided.
21. One day later, and on December 3, 2014, Gill received an intent to terminate letter from the City Attorney, and was placed on administrative leave with pay.
22. Gill requested review of her termination with the disciplinary action review committee (DARC) for the City.
23. Gill was given a pre-termination hearing before the DARC on December 16, 2014, and terminated that very same day.
24. In January of 2015, the Defendants unlawfully denied Gill benefits under COBRA.
Ms. Gill alleges the city fired her because she was white and she voiced concerns about some of the new policies and procedures. A MDES administrative law judge ruled she was entitled to receive unemployment benefits and that the City Attorney "failed to prove by clear and convincing evidence that Gill was guilty of misconduct warranting termination."
The city appealed the decision to the MDES Board of Review and lost. The city then took the fight to Hinds County Circuit Court and lost. The city did not appeal Judge Bill Gowan's ruling. Ms. Gill filed an EEOC complaint and received permission to sue Jackson. Ms. Gill seeks compensatory and punitive damages. Ms. Gill represents herself. The case is assigned to Judge Henry Wingate.
Kingfish note: Who will rip off first? Mollie or Jerry?