Former employee sues city officials

Published 12:00pm Thursday, May 16, 2013

A former City of Wetumpka permit clerk has filed a lawsuit against Wetumpka Mayor Jerry Willis and Tex Grier, who was building inspector for the city, saying she was fired in 2011 because of her race.
In court records obtained by The Herald, Sandra Dejarnett, contends she was fired on June 3, 2011, because of her race and that Willis “illegally” blocked attempts by Dejarnett to appeal her termination.
In response to Dejarnett’s lawsuit, Willis and Grier contend there is no truth to Dejarnett’s complaint and “demand strict proof.”
Earlier this month depositions were taken and a trial is set for Oct. 21.
Jim Debardelaben, attorney for Dejarnett, said he is ready to go to trial if necessary.
While Debardelaben said he could not comment on the specifics of the case, he said his client is seeking her job back, full back pay, punitive damages as well as coverage of attorney’s and court costs.
In the complaint filed by Debardelaben, it states that his client filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on Sept. 1, 2011, alleging she was discriminated against based on her race.
The complaint later states that on July 9, 2012, Dejarnett received a Right to Sue letter from the EEOC.
Dejarnett was employed with the city from October 2006 until June 3, 2011.
In the lawsuit, she contends that she “never received any type of notice, either verbal or written, that she was being disciplined or reprimanded for anything.” And that the only notification she received was a letter of termination from Willis.
On July 1, 2011, the city attorney, Jacqueline Austin, sent a letter to Willis and each city council member concerning Dejarnett’s termination.
“I have attached a memo that was sent to the mayor and the building inspector on June 1, 2011, in relation to Ms. Dejarnett’s employment. I recommended that Ms. Dejarnett not be terminated immediately, as I was afraid that there was serious potential for litigation.”
Willis and Grier did not refute the claim in the lawsuit.
They did respond in saying that Dejarnett “was not treated differently than similarly situated individuals” and she was not discriminated against and her termination was justified.

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