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Split decision stalls complaint

Published on -7/26/2014, 4:31 PM

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SALINA (MCT) — In her 13-year tenure as a commission member and director, McDonald said, the investigating commissioners have always reached a consensus. The decision now is in the hands of Great Bend attorney Allen Glendenning, who will decide if he has a case to present in Salina Municipal Court.
Glendenning will present his findings to the commission at the Aug. 12 meeting.
"In my experience, I don't recall it ever happening before. It's very unusual for two commissioners to come up with different results, and when they do, usually we can come to an agreement through mediation," McDonald said. "We did that last night (Thursday) and got nothing. This is very unusual."
More to come?
Two weeks after the county commission selected Farmer on March 25, Brotton filed the employment sexual discrimination complaint with the Human Relations Commission. Farmer had been fired from the health department in August of 2013 for falsifying mileage reports.
County Commission Chairman Randy Duncan said Friday he could not comment on pending litigation.
Brotton also filed a complaint with the Kansas Human Rights Commission and has an opportunity to file with the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
"We'll see what happens as it works its way through the process," Brotton said of her complaint. "If I understand it, regardless of what the local decision is, the Kansas Human Right's Commission will do a more extensive investigation."
She said the communication she's received from the federal EEOC is that when the human rights investigation is complete, she can request that organization to review it, as well.
"All I really wanted was the situation to be investigated," she said.
In Municipal Court
McDonald said that should the complaint land in Municipal Court, it would be tried as a civil case.
"The judge will decide if there is guilt or no guilt," she said. She said the ruling has a wide range of possibilities from dismissal to a monetary settlement.
10-20 complaints a year
She said the Community Relations Department receives 10 to 20 complaints a year, and the Human Relations Commission reviews between five and eight of those. In the past 10 years, only two of the complaints ended up in Municipal Court and both concerned disability discrimination.
In the past, the commission has sought the advice of City Attorney Greg Bengtson or the firm for which he works, Clark Mize & Linville, Salina.
"Because they (Bengtson and Clark Mize) had been working with the health department during the summer Mr. Farmer was fired, the county believed it was a conflict of interest for them to review the case," McDonald said. "They asked that we get an outside attorney."
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(c)2014 The Salina Journal (Salina, Kan.)
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