Two former office employees suing Georgetown

Two former office employees suing Georgetown

GEORGETOWN — Two former office employees have filed a wrongful-termination lawsuit against the city and members of the city council.

Shelly F. Nale and Melissa J. Bowles filed suit in U.S. District Court in Urbana against the city of Georgetown, Mayor Kay Sanders and the seven aldermen at the time of their termination in August 2013 — Adam Hart, Carl Johnson, Janet Martin, Samuel Payne, Darin Readnour, Timothy Waterman and Don Wheeler.

Nale, who had worked for the city for 21/2 years, and Bowles, an employee for 14 months, were fired from their jobs on Aug. 31.

At the Sept. 3 council meeting, both contended that they were not given verbal or written warnings in the past, and that the city's progressive discipline process was not followed.

Their attorney, Ronald Langacker of Urbana, said the case was filed in federal court because it alleges the employees were denied their due process rights under the 14th Amendment when they were terminated without being properly told the reasons and without having an opportunity to respond to the charges.

Langacker said the litany of reasons given for the terminations — including insubordination, theft and willful destruction of city property — were baseless.

"It is one thing to terminate employees, but it is another thing to accuse them of things for which there is no basis in fact," Langacker said. "My clients are not looking to hurt the city of Georgetown, but they have been put into a position where they have no other recourse in order to restore their reputations."

Sanders declined to comment.

The city and council members are represented by Lori A. Vanderlaan, an attorney with Best, Vanderlaan & Harrington of Joliet. She would not discuss the specifics of the case, but said her clients planned to file a formal response to the lawsuit by early July. The first hearing on the case would be scheduled sometime after that, Vanderlaan said.

"The city of Georgetown vigorously denies the allegations made by the former employees and their attorney," Vanderlaan said. "I am confident that this will be resolved in the city's favor."

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