Saturday, October 25, 2014

City settles ADA lawsuit with former employee

By DOUG CARDER, Herald Senior Writer | 12/21/2012

The City of Ottawa has agreed to pay a former public works employee $10,000 in the form of wages as part of a settlement agreement.

Lance Burroughs filed an Americans with Disabilities Act claim with the Kansas Human Rights Commission that alleged he was wrongfully terminated from the city in April 2012. The claim went through mediation, with both parties agreeing to the terms of a settlement, Bob Bezek, city attorney, said.

The City of Ottawa has agreed to pay a former public works employee $10,000 in the form of wages as part of a settlement agreement.

Lance Burroughs filed an Americans with Disabilities Act claim with the Kansas Human Rights Commission that alleged he was wrongfully terminated from the city in April 2012. The claim went through mediation, with both parties agreeing to the terms of a settlement, Bob Bezek, city attorney, said.

As part of the settlement, the city admits no wrongdoing, and Burroughs forfeits the right to make any further claims against the city, Bezek said.

Because it involved a personnel matter, Bezek said, he did not detail the reasons for Burroughs’ severed relationship with the city when he discussed the settlement with Ottawa city commissioners at their meeting Wednesday at City Hall, 101 S. Hickory St., Ottawa.

Bezek said while the city denies any wrongdoing, the reason for pursuing the settlement was threefold. He outlined those reasons in a letter to the commissioners and at their meeting Wednesday.

“The cost of taking the case through discovery and potentially to trial in a federal court would far exceed the city’s settlement obligations [of $10,000] by a factor of five to ten 10/25/2014,” Bezek said. “In addition, the discovery process could tieup a considerable amount of staff time for months.”

And the third reason for approving the settlement, Bezek told commissioners, was that it eliminated the possibility of any further litigation in the matter.

As part of the settlement, the city agreed to write Burroughs a check for $5,869.96 for his alleged lost wages in the claim. The check would represent the payment of $10,000, minus withholding and other applicable taxes.

The city’s insurance carrier, EMC Insurance Companies, Overland Park, would cover the other costs of the settlement, Bezek said. Those costs include a $25,000 payment to Burroughs and a $5,000 payment to Burroughs’ attorneys to cover their fees and expenses.

City commissioners voted 5-0 to approve the settlement, but did not offer any further comment on the matter.

Burroughs could not be reached for comment Friday.

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