Sharlett Chowning had worked in the City of Lubbock's Information Technology department for 17 years, but was laid-off last year due to city financial shortfalls.
Former Interim City Manager Tommy Gonzalez made the call to lay-off Chowning, but she claims Gonzalez let her go because she is a woman. The U.S.Equal Employment Opportunity Commission agreed with her, and now we've learned their opinion could result in a sizable pay day for Chowning.
NewsChannel 11 has learned the city of Lubbock is preparing a settlement offer with former city employee Sharlett Chowning. City leaders want to pay Chowning close to $400,000 for her sex discrimination case against the city of Lubbock. If that's the case, the city will pay a $250,000 deductible and the city's insurance will pay the remaining $150,000.
Last October, Chowning filed a grievance with the EEOC in which she claimed former Interim City Manager Tommy Gonzalez had laid her off because of her age and sex and that her job was given to a subordinate who was less qualified and was a man.
Earlier this year, the City Council voted to not consider Gonzalez for the City Manager position because of the pending discrimination case. Mayor Marc McDougal was referring to Gonzalez at this January news conference. "With regard to a specific candidate and with the advice from internal and external council, there was a consensus not to place the city of Lubbock in jeopardy due to the information that is contained in these two documents," said the Mayor.
Gonzalez resigned and the city paid him over $200,000 in severance for his departure. If Chowning is paid, this means the city of Lubbock will have shelled out nearly half a million dollars in three months.
We spoke with Sharlett Chowning on the phone, she told us she "hasn't seen a settlement, hasn't signed anything, and hasn't agreed to anything." We'll find out what happens on Thursday when the City Council is scheduled to discuss this matter.