Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Ex-manager accepts $800K from Knox County, MPC over federal lawsuit

Knox County and the Metropolitan Planning Commission will pay a former MPC manager $800,000 to resolve what she alleged was a job retaliation case.

Dee Anne Reynolds of LaFollette filed the complaint in June 2015 in U.S. District Court in Knoxville.

Attorney David Burkhalter said the case was resolved Monday when his client accepted the defendants' "offer of judgment," presented earlier this month.

Private attorneys Benjamin Lauderback and Emily Taylor, on behalf of the MPC, and attorney Jeffrey M. Ward, on behalf of the county, presented the offer Aug. 8, according to records.

Reynolds formerly was MPC's finance manager and had worked there 12 years until being fired in June 2014.

She alleged she was fired by former MPC Director Mark Donaldson in retaliation for standing up for Elizabeth Albertson, an employee who complained she was a victim of sexual discrimination and unequal pay.

Reynolds was part of the MPC's management team.

She alleged that Donaldson became increasingly hostile toward her as she pressed Albertson's case.

In October 2013, according to Reynolds, she received a "trumped up written disciplinary warning" from Donaldson. She alleges he acted to retaliate against her for supporting Albertson.

Burkhalter said the county and MPC "swept under the rug" Albertson's complaint.

He said Reynolds never did anything wrong.

"She never should have been fired for doing the right thing," he said.

Donaldson left the agency in August 2014 amid growing pressure by some community groups seeking his termination.

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