City Settles Discrimination Suit With Former Employee
Left, City Attorney Logan Beveridge and Mayor Andrew Halverson. (City-Times photo)
By Brandi Makuski
The City of Stevens Point has settled a lawsuit with former Assistant Superintendent of Streets Kelly Reith.
Reith began employment with the city in November of 2012, and was abruptly fired in January following an email he sent to Mayor Andrew Halverson. In the email, Reith objected to what he considered an unfair advantage married persons were given under the city’s Wellness Incentive Program.
“[I] cannot understand, nor do I agree with the fact that the city will not be equitably crediting the employee no matter what their marital status is. I am sure I can speak for all the other FAMILY covered employees without spouses in saying that this program unfairly penalizes us and should be reviewed. Equal treatment should be given for equal participation,” Reith said in his email.
Reith, who was a probationary employee at the time, was terminated within 24 hours of sending the email. In April, Reith filed a complaint with the state’s equal rights division and hired Wausau’s Cross Law Firm, specializes in employment law.
According to the complaint, Reith was successful in his position, having received a positive employee review just days before his termination. Streets Superintendent Dennis Laidlaw rated him as “fully competent” in the review, and noted that, “[Laidlaw] look[s] forward to [Reith] being a productive, cooperative and supportive part of [the city’s] management team.”
“This is your classic case of retaliation,” said Attorney Noah Reinstein of Cross Law Firm in a statement. “Mr. Reith identified something he believed was discriminatory, he made a polite objection, and he was terminated in response.”
According to city documents, Reith opted for the city’s family health plan to cover himself and his daughter, but soon noticed single parent contributions were unfairly determined based on a point system and favored married employees.
City leaders would not comment on the settlement, except to confirm it.
“The settlement was for $60,000, and for that attorneys typically get 1/3, and $40,000 was paid throughout our payroll system (to Reith),” said Comptroller-Treasurer Corey Ladick.