Local Government

Quincy settles federal suit with former employee

By Herald-Whig
Posted: May. 19, 2017 9:50 am Updated: May. 19, 2017 10:24 am

QUINCY — The city of Quincy has settled a federal lawsuit brought by a former Central Services employee, who claimed she lost her job after speaking out against a proposal to privatize all city residential garbage and recycling collection.

The settlement agreement obtained by The Herald-Whig through the Freedom of Information Act shows the city agreed to pay $40,000 to settle the case with Jane Smith.

Smith filed suit in November 2014 against the city, Mayor Kyle Moore, former director of Human Resources Doug Olson and Marty Stegeman, then director of Central Services and the Quincy Transit Lines.

Smith sought reinstatement to her former position with full back pay, seniority and benefits, as well as compensatory and punitive damages and legal fees.

Smith, a 19-year employee of the city, claimed her First Amendment rights were violated when she was terminated in January 2014.

At the time, Moore said the city was trimming staff for budgetary reasons.

However, Smith contended that she was terminated after she reached out to co-workers, family and friends in Quincy to voice her concerns and opposition to garbage and recycling privatization and to organize opposition after she learned of the proposal in May or June 2013. Smith said her actions were not conducted during work hours.

The city did not move forward with the privatization plan after significant public backlash.

The city originally prevailed after U.S. District Judge Colin S. Bruce ruled June 20, 2016, that Smith could not prove a constitutional violation in his ruling granting the city’s motion for a summary judgment. In his ruling to dismiss the case, Bruce said there was no evidence to establish her speech was a motivating factor in the city’s decision to terminate her.

However, Smith appealed the ruling July 19, 2016, to the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

As part of the agreement, both sides agreed to terminate the litigation. The defendants have denied any wrongdoing.

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