|Last month I reported that it looked like the law suit filed by
former Lenoir City codes enforcement officer, Leslie Johnson, may have
been settled. In fact it has been for the sum of $206,298.57. That
according to federal court documents and the mutual settlement agreement
signed by all parties involved. See Link Below.
The settlement includes back pay of $20,000.00, compensatory damages of $100,000.00, all legal fees of $86,298.57, clearing of her name in her personal file and several other stipulations.
City officials claimed Ms. Johnson was discharged because she engaged in insubordination, neglect of duty, and violation of city policy and abuse of city equipment. This came after a secret, eight week long investigation by city officials which included GPS tracking and covert surveillance of Ms. Johnson.
Again, you will recall, Ms. Johnson was dismissed back in January of 2013. City officials claimed they had all kinds of legitimate reasons to cut her loose. Ms. Johnson claimed she was fired in retaliation for doing her job in requiring the city to abide by their own regulations..
According to media reports shortly after her termination, Ms. Johnson claimed she attempted to enforce building codes after the city bought the SunTrust Bank building on Highway 321, asking "that the city apply for a permit and use a licensed contractor to do the work and obtain all the required inspections of the work as it proceeded and before it was occupied. She believed the city was required to do those things just the same as anyone else doing construction within the city. The lawsuit alleged that Johnson was told by Don White, her supervisor, that the required plans, drawings, inspections and reviews would be too expensive.
Well, the settlement agreement below makes it pretty darn clear that Ms. Johnson must not have been as guilty of violating city policies as those officials claimed she was. Ms. Johnson is clearly vindicated based on the agreement. Did she possibly violate the city's vehicle use policy by using her work vehicle for some personal use, she might have. But are we to believe that other city officials haven't done the very same thing from time to time? Yet, no one else has ever been fired for it.
It appears somebody decided she had to go then they set out to find a reason to fire her. The only thing missing in the agreement is for the city officials to publically apologize. Though that's not in the agreement, maybe they should.
I guess the only missing link is where the city got the money to pay the settlement. I'm sure their insurance paid some portion of it but where did the rest come from?
I guess I can't help posting it again, Lenoir City Mayor Tony Aikens was quoted in the News Herald last year saying, “She wanted to file a lawsuit. The truth will prevail,”
Apparently, the truth has prevailed and Ms. Johnson won.
Below is a link to the mutual settlement agreement. It's pretty clear in it's intent and outcome.