A former employee is suing the city of Killeen, claiming officials violated a 2009 settlement agreement.
A petition filed in Bell County district court Friday claimed the city failed to abide by the terms of a settlement with former Killeen recreation superintendent Megian Douglass, telling prospective employers that she was “terminated” by the city — instead of stating that she resigned.
“The city of Killeen was blatantly breaking its word,” states the petition, which was filed by Austin attorney Bill Aleshire.
In December 2009, the Killeen City Council approved a $35,000 settlement after Douglass threatened a wrongful termination lawsuit. According to the petition, part of the settlement also promised that, if Douglass resigned from her position, the city would not “disparage” her work record, and would tell prospective employers that she resigned as opposed to being terminated.
Aleshire said that while his client was able to find employment in the 3½ years since the settlement, she became suspicious after being passed over for jobs she felt she was “particularly qualified” for.
“She was very concerned that the city violated the agreement,” Aleshire said.
The petition states that Douglass recorded a call in which the city’s Human Resources Department confirmed that she was listed as “terminated” in its records. Douglass also received an email from City Director of Community Development Leslie Hinkle, in which Hinkle stated that she was advised not to issue a letter of professional reference for Douglass.
Prior to filing with the court, Aleshire exchanged emails with City Attorney Kathy Davis. Davis’ response argued that the city did not violated the agreement.
“Our records show her status as ‘terminated-personal,’ which means, in HR parlance, the she has resigned,” Davis wrote in an Aug. 30 email.
Aleshire disagreed, characterizing the response as “ridiculous.”
“There’s nobody in the real world who believes that a former employer saying that someone was terminated means anything other than that they were fired,” Aleshire said Monday.
The petition asks that the court order the city to cease violating the terms of the 2009 settlement, and take steps to rectify that alleged violation. Aleshire said Douglass was not asking for any monetary damages or legal fees.
In a written statement issued Monday afternoon, the city maintained that it was following the terms of the settlement.
“The City of Killeen entered into an agreement with Megian Douglass in 2009, following her claim that she had been wrongfully terminated and her attorney’s request for a settlement,” the statement read.
“The City has in good faith attempted to comply with this agreement, and has in no way taken any actions that have caused harm to Ms. Douglass. The City will discuss this matter with the City Council before providing any further comment.”
The petition was filed in 169th Judicial District Court in Belton.
Contact Chris McGuinness at email@example.com or (254) 501-7568. Follow him on Twitter at ChrismKDH.