City defends settlement dispute with current city employee - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

10/12/10

City defends settlement dispute with current city employee in federal court

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Martha Ellerbrook Martha Ellerbrook

LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - After the City of Lubbock refused to settle with a city employee back in January over a retaliation lawsuit, the city defended itself in federal court on Tuesday.

Martha Ellerbrook claims she was passed over for a job in retaliation for helping her husband Terry Ellerbrook in a lawsuit against the city. Martha seeks back pay for a job the city says no longer exists.

Court is recessed now until Wednesday morning, but on Tuesday, Martha Ellerbrook took the stand. She is seeking three years back pay for the water programs coordinator job she applied for in 2007, but didn't get.

She is asking for a total of more than $200,000, plus about $40,000 to match the retirement she would have received. Terry, now the Director of Solid Waste, sued the city back in 2006 for retaliation and discrimination claims after wrongful termination, the city later settled out of court for around $250,000.

In March of 2010, Martha was hired by the city as Director of Animal Services. This lawsuit was filed long before she was hired for that position.

The City Manager, Lee Ann Dumbauld took the stand and says more than 20 people also applied for the same job. Dumbauld says Martha was one of three finalists and they hired a consultant group to use a scoring matrix to pick the final candidate, because the person hiring was involved in litigations against Terry Ellerbrook.

On February 16, 2007, Martha received a letter stating she didn't qualify as Water Programs Coordinator, a position the city terminated in June 2010. The exact same day she was told she didn't get the job, ironically, her current position opened. At the time, Martha said she couldn't find a job.

We will have more from this trial as it continues. It is expected to last no more than four days.

(CLICK HERE) to read an 8-page summary of the case including stipulated facts and disputed facts.

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