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Decision on hiring discrimination complaint could be made soon

By Tim Horan

The Salina Journal

A decision could be made by the end of the month on an employment discrimination complaint filed by Suzette Brotton, former interim director of the Saline County Health Department, against Saline County commissioners.

Gina McDonald, executive director of the city's community relations department, said that about a dozen people have been interviewed as part of the investigation.

Information received from the interviews is being summarized and should be turned over next week to two members of the Salina Human Relations Commission for review, McDonald said.

"We are trying to get this done," she said. "We know everyone is anxious for an answer."

"They (two members of the human relations commission) will probably need a week or so to do the review, so it (a decision) will probably be at the end of the month," McDonald said.

"We interviewed all the county commissioners; we interviewed Mr. (Bronson) Farmer and Ms. Brotton and a number of witnesses that Ms. Brotton gave us."

Once the two members of the Salina Human Relations Commission make a decision, the complaint either will be dropped or a conciliation offer made, McDonald said. If probable cause is found that discrimination occurred and no agreement is reached, the case will go to Salina Municipal Court.

Brotton filed the complaint with the Salina Human Relations Commission on April 7 after county commissioners selected Farmer instead of her to direct the health department.

Brotton said Thursday that she filed a similar complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which turned it over to the Kansas Human Rights Commission.

She said the Kansas commission will conduct its own investigation into the employment discrimination complaint.

Brotton worked at the health department for close to nine years in emergency preparedness. She was named interim director in January when the county took over the former Salina-Saline County Health Department. On March 18, county commissioners voted 2 to 1, with Commissioner Jim Gile the negative vote, to hire Farmer as health department director.

Brotton left the department recently to teach maternal child health at Brown Mackie College.

Farmer is a former lead sanitarian for the health department who has a bachelor's degree in biology from Kansas State University. Brotton is a registered nurse who last month received her master's degree in public health from the Kansas University Medical Center, Wichita.

Farmer was fired from the health department in August for allegedly falsifying mileage reports, a charge he has denied.

(c)2014 The Salina Journal