The People's Tribune

Louisiana Officials Consider Settlement In Discrimination Case By Former Officer

Mayor Discusses Insufficiencies In Current State Law For Discrimination Claims

The Louisiana City Council discussed a settlement in closed session on Monday to end a discrimination case that was brought forth by a former officer with the city’s police department.

Lorne Jackman claimed he was a victim of age and race discrimination when he was fired by the city. A claim that Mayor Bart Niedner vehemently denies. The case went to mediation and a settlement has been proposed. The council discussed that matter in closed session on Monday.

Niedner explained there have been four former employees who have made claims against the city. Two more cases will enter mediation later this week. They were filed by Robert Jenne, the city’s former administrator/interim police chief, and by Sharon Kakouris, the city’s former clerk. Jenne and Kakouris both claim they were discriminated against on the basis of age. Kakouris also claims gender discrimination.

Another former employee, Stacy Bowerman who served for eight months as the city’s economic development director, also has a claim of age discrimination pending against the city.

Niedner says he absolutely denies all of the charges. He adds that state law has made claims like this easy to make.

Niedner told The People’s Tribune in an interview on Monday that he is limited in what he can discuss with cases pending, but will shed more light on them in the future.

“It is really important the public understand what has happened,” he remarked. “It is of grave concern to me.”

Niedner said that right now the way the law stands, a member of a protected class can make a claim with very little to no risk. The city’s insurance company must defend the city and in most cases looks for the most financially advantageous solution. So, if a case can be settled for less than the cost of defense in a court case, the insurance company will likely recommend settlement.

Niedner noted the cost of defense for a case such as the ones on the table are around $50,000 each. And if the city should decide to go ahead with a court case, the city would then become liable for any amounts above the settlement that was proposed rather than the city’s insurance.

Niedner further pointed out that Missouri has some of the weakest protections against spurious claims.

“It’s a legal system gone made. There are openings for abuse. It erodes the ability of the law to protect those the laws are designed to protect,” he said. “All these cases aside, this is infuriating.”

Niedner said the state is currently considering legislation that will bring closure to some of those lax areas. It should bring the state up to the standards of the federal government and other states. He added the new legislation will also limit who can be named individually in suits and changes the threshold from “contributing factor(s)” of dismissal to “causal factor(s)”.

They mayor pointed out that if the state were not pursuing this new legislation the city would likely be handling the claims by the four former employees differently.

Niedner noted that he could not discuss the circumstances surrounding the dismissals of Jackman, Jenne, Kakouris and Bowerman at this time. He added that once decisions have been made he will issue a statement to clarify the matters.

The city has 72-hours to make public any decision made in closed session.

Comments are closed

Text Description

Text Description

Text Description

Log in | 2017 The People's Tribune