By David Fleet
Goodrich- On Aug. 8, a former village administrator/clerk settled through mediation with one former and two current village council members after alleged Whistleblower, public policy and Michigan’s Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act violations.
The issue was settled through court ordered mediation by Genesee County Circuit Court Judge F. Kay Behm. The settlement for the plaintiff is for $250,000.
The defendants filed an acceptance of the case evaluation and declined comment. Terms of the payment were not discussed.
In July 2018, Jakki Sidge, the former village administrator/clerk filed suit against the three councilmembers after her annual contract with the village was not renewed. She had been with the village for more than 25 years.
Named in the suit were then Council Pro-Tem Jake Vick, and current trustees Tim Light and Tim Barraco who voted to not renew the contract. Council President Mark Baldwin and Council member Shannon McCafferty voted to renew her contract and were not named in the suit.
Vick was not reelected to the council in November 2018.
The suit, filed by Flint Township Attorney Tom Pabst alleged the contract was not renewed because Sidge reported that the defendants violated the village charter, village rules and policies with regards to harassment, hostile work environment she was being subject to and the Open Meetings Act. The suit had claimed that gender and age played a role in the non-renewal of her contract in violation of civil rights law. However, those clams were dropped in June 2019.
According to a report from Pabst’s office, Sidge engaged in “Type I” reporting protected activity when she reported the village council’s violation or suspected violation of the Michigan Open Meetings Act to the village council and to the village attorney, Thomas P. McKenney. Sidge’s report resulted in an opinion letter by McKenney regarding violations or suspected violations of both the Open Meetings Act and the Bullard Plawecki Right to Know Act.
Then, according to Pabst’s report at the May 15, 2018 meeting Sidge distributed communication from Attorney McKenney regarding the alleged violations for the procedure for discussing time sheets and performance reviews as it related to the Open Meetings Act and the “Bullard Plawecki Right to Know Act.”
According to Pabst’s report the defendants’ repeatedly voiced their displeasure at Sidge for going to Village Attorney McKenney by derisively referring to her protected activity as a “subterfuge” to cover herself for allegedly not doing the (unlawful) acts they demanded she do. The defendants’ actions allegedly were all done in retaliation and response to Sidge engaging in protected activity under the Whistleblower Protection Act, including her raising violations of the law, rules, regulation and polices.