A case alleging age discrimination against the city of Denison was recently settled.
On Sept. 20 of last year, Kathleen Boatright, a former employee of the city of Denison, filed suit against the city alleging violations of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act.
The suit said Boatright was an employee at the Denison Public Library when she was terminated. She had been employed by the city for 14 years at that point. The suit states that in October 2013, she was diagnosed with breast cancer that required medical care and reasonable accommodations. On Feb. 23 of last year, the suit states, she was wrongfully accused of misuse of credit card, of theft and of falsification of records. She said she followed the policies and guidelines for reporting mileage and library expenses. The suit states she was discharged on Feb. 29, 2016.
The complaint said Boatright received no previous warnings and notes the alleged violations took place under former Denison Public Librarian Alvin Bailey and Associate Library Director Laura Haworth, both of whom had at least 32 years of service with the city of Denison and had retired just the month before Boatright was accused of wrongdoing.
A prepared statement from the city of Denison Friday said the city’s insurance provider, Texas Municipal League – Intergovernmental Risk Pool, represented Denison in the case and recently agreed to settle the matter. The settlement was for $60,000 to Boatright and TMLIRP requested that the city participate financially and contribute $10,000 toward the settlement. On July 13, after the settlement was reached, the case was dismissed from the U.S. District Court.
The statement said, “(t)he City believes that the evidence would show, and that a jury of reasonable citizens would find, that Boatright’s termination was correct due to violations of the employee handbook, including dishonesty, theft or inappropriate removal or use of City property, falsification of timekeeping or other records, and violation of the City’s core values of Accountability and Integrity. In addition, the City believes that the suit was nothing more than an attempt to take advantage of the city and the 23,000 citizens it represents.”
It further said the city understands why the case is dismissed, but “it does not agree with the settlement reached by TMLIRP. The City of Denison prides itself on being a team of public servants that reflect the core values of Service, Teamwork, Accountability, Commitment, and Integrity, and will continue to make employment decisions in furtherance of those values.”
Boatman was represented in the case by Ronald Huff, who cried foul at the city’s statement saying the insurance provider caused the city to settle the case. He said the city could have refused to settle and gone to trial if it had wanted to do so. Additionally, he said, Boatright did not steal anything and was not dishonest in any way. He said she had more than a decade of experience with the library and had received excellent service reviews from her superiors during that timeframe.
Huff said his client’s dismissal came at about the same time that the city ushered other city leaders in their 50s into early retirement or termination including former city librarian Alvin Bailey and assistant fire chief Bill Ray. In a previously published story, Bailey said he was not forced to retire.
“But it was clear that the city wanted to go in a new direction,” Bailey said.
That new direction, Huff said, was a younger one. And that, he said, was both immoral and unethical.