City Employee Files Lawsuit Against Employer - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

4/19/06

City Employee Files Lawsuit Against Employer

Your tax dollars could end up going to one city employee if he gets his way and wins a lawsuit. Terry Ellerbrook is suing the city.

Ellerbrook has been employed by the city for more than 20 years. He once headed the city's public works and now oversees the solid waste department, and it appears that change, among other issues, is what's sending the city to court.

The civil lawsuit was filed just before 6pm Wednesday, hours after Ellerbrook learned the city would not make a settlement. NewsChannel 11's Jennifer Vogel obtained a copy of the suit and has the details.

Early Wednesday morning, the city refused to take action on a settlement agreement with Terry Ellerbrook that would've given him $95,000 and allowed him to keep his job. But now, the city and Ellerbrook will have to settle the issue in court.

Mayor Marc McDougal brought up the motion in the City Council meeting, "is there a motion? One more time for a motion. Motion denied as for lack of seconds. Excuse me, I mean motions. Any other business? Council adjourned."

That meeting would lead to a civil lawsuit. When Terry Ellerbrook learned he would not reach a settlement with the city, he filed a lawsuit for discrimination, whistle blower retaliation, and charter and open meeting violations.

The disagreements with the city and Ellerbrook started in January of last year when Ellerbrook thought he was losing his job. The lawsuit says, "he was told by Tom Adams that he had 90 days to 'get his affairs in order' and 'consider his alternatives' in anticipation of the impending termination."

The lawsuit says the reason for Ellerbrook's termination was that he lacked in leadership skills. But according to the lawsuit, Ellerbrook never had a bad evaluation, and filed a grievance with the city. Five months later, Ellerbrook was assigned to a new position and alleges, "actions had been taken by the defendant to directly interfere with Ellerbrook's ability to exercise his leadership and carryout his responsibilities as he had been excluded from vital meetings." And that's one reason why Ellerbrook now feels the city owes him.

In the lawsuit he lists the damages as having suffered or will suffer in the future lost wages, lost benefits and emotional distress. He also wants the city to pay for attorneys fees and all court costs. Although the city would not comment, they do say that Ellerbrook has never been terminated, and is still making his salary of $115,000 a year.

Ellerbrook is also asking for a jury trial in this matter. The city says they have no comment about the lawsuit because it is a personnel issue. We also tried contact Ellerbrook's attorneys but they did not have a comment at this time.

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