A Former City Supervisor Alleges She Was Suspended for Successfully Defending Herself Against Discrimination Allegations
In a new 72-page ruling, a federal district court stated the City of Danville must face trial over claims that high-ranking city officials retaliated against a supervisor for successfully defending herself against allegations that she discriminated against another employee.
According to the Complaint, Parson was suspended and discharged after serving as a witness in a city investigation. The lawsuit accused city officials of unlawfully punishing Parson for defending herself against allegations made by another employee who accused Parson of discriminatory mistreatment. The city’s own investigation concluded the employee’s complaint against Parson was unfounded.
Last year, the City of Danville filed a motion for summary judgment seeking to dismiss the case by arguing there was insufficient evidence to support any of Parson’s claims.
However, in the new ruling, United States District Court Judge Colin S. Bruce denied the city’s motion, stating that, based on the evidence, jurors could find that city officials retaliated against Parson by suspending her without pay for engaging in protected activity in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and the Illinois Human Rights Act.
The ruling stated Parson’s evidence “undermines every legitimate reason” put forth by the city and, as a result, a jury could find the explanations provided by the city were an effort to hide the real reason for suspending her. Now jurors will consider the evidence and decide whether the city violated the law by suspending Parson.
Despite conflicting evidence on both sides, the ruling stated the evidence was not strong enough to sustain claims that Parson was discharged for unlawful reasons. The city claimed the Superintendent of Recreation position was eliminated for budgetary and COVID-related reasons.
The jury trial over Parson’s suspension is not scheduled yet, but could take place later this year.
The lawsuit was filed in the United States District Court for the Central District of Illinois in Urbana, Civil Action No. 21 C 2119.
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NOTICE: The information contained in this post comes from allegations made in a legal complaint which was filed in the public record with the court. Please note that this is a contested matter. As a result, it is expected that the allegations will be opposed or denied by other parties and the court has not ruled one way or the other as of the date of this statement.