City ordered to turn over docs. in legal battle with city employee - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

7/27/10

City ordered to turn over documents in legal battle with city employee

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By James Clark | email

LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - A city employee suing the city in federal court won a legal skirmish Monday.  Federal Judge Sam Cummings ruled that the city must turn over certain documents to Martha Ellerbrook, who is currently the city's Director of Animal Control Services. 

Ellerbrook claims she was passed over for Water Programs Coordinator in 2007 as retaliation for helping her husband Terry Ellerbrook sue the city.  Terry Ellerbrook settled out of court, and Martha Ellerbrook was hired as Director of Animal Control Services this year. 

The city has long maintained that it hired another, more qualified candidate as Water Programs Coordinator.  However, Ellerbrook says the job description was subtly changed to de-emphasize her experience. Specifically she claims the city artificially gave importance to the phrase "hard business skills" to give another candidate an advantage.

More recently, Ellerbrook's attorney demanded several long lists of documents and in most cases the judge said no. 

However, the judge did rule the city must turn over documents that would reveal the historic function of the Water Programs Coordinator, the position for which Ellerbrook applied and was not hired.

The judge says in his ruling that Ellerbrook, "seeks information demonstrating that the hard skills needed and used by the Water Programs Coordinator, both before and after Plaintiff was considered for the position, were of minimal importance to the job's function."

The judge also rules "this information could lend support to Plaintiff's theory by demonstrating that Defendant's emphasis on the candidate's "hard" business skills in Plaintiff's interview was unwarranted."

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