Fired Monroeville manager sues municipality in federal court

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Monroeville’s fired former manager slapped the municipality with a federal lawsuit Monday claiming her civil rights were violated and that she was retaliated against for being a whistle-blower.

Lynette McKinney’‍s complaint claims that Monroeville gave “false reasons” for her termination in January, including alleging that she hired police officers without authority and met with outside legal counsel.

Ms. McKinney and her attorney, Joseph H. Chivers, rejected both of those accusations.

Instead, they claimed she was fired for speaking out on matters of public concern; reporting fraud, waste and abuse; participating in government and internal investigations; and taking actions to correct the problems.

Ms. McKinney, 48, was a 24-year veteran of the municipality when council fired her. She had risen from executive secretary to manager.

While she was manager, two political factions formed among council and municipal officials, leading to much infighting. A major source of friction involved a federal complaint a police official filed alleging that the municipality was not properly safeguarding residents’ private health information.

As a result, Ms. McKinney fired police Chief K. Douglas Cole, who later was reinstated; terminated three emergency dispatchers; and hired an outside law firm to conduct an independent investigation.

A federal investigation found no violations of the privacy law but concluded that Monroeville’s dispatch center records “were accessible to unauthorized individuals.”

In her suit, Ms. McKinney claims she was denied an opportunity, as law requires, to have a pre-termination hearing. She also said she has not gotten her severance or health benefits.

“These adverse actions have been taken against [Ms. McKinney] because of her cooperation with authorities investigating fraud, waste and/​or abuse by municipality employees, and because of her opposing and correcting these illegal actions, and because of the exercise of her rights to free speech," the complaint says.

The complaint seeks a jury trial, a permanent injunction prohibiting Monroeville from violating the state whistle-blower protection act, financial compensation for Ms. McKinney, damages and attorney’s fees.

Monroeville’s solicitor, mayor and manager could not be reached for comment.

Read the lawsuit below or click here to download the full document.

 

Jonathan D. Silver: jsilver@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1962. First Published July 1, 2014 12:00 AM

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