Lawsuit: Anderson mayor fired 10 workers over politics

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

A central Indiana mayor is fighting a lawsuit filed by 10 former city employees who claim they lost their jobs because they backed his opponent in last year's election.

The federal lawsuit filed by the former Anderson employees against Republican Mayor Kevin Smith argues that their dismissal by the city violated their rights to political activities, The Herald Bulletin reported Friday.

The lawsuit said the workers all publicly supported then-Mayor Kris Ockomon, a Democrat, in the 2011 election and that three of them are Democratic precinct committee representatives.

City attorney Jason Childers denied that the workers had been wrongly terminated. He said he wouldn't give specifics on each case, but that the city could dismiss workers in confidential or policy-making positions or for performance reasons.

"We feel we have valid legally supported reasons for doing what we did," Childers said. "We are confident it will come out that way in court."

Smith returned to the mayor's office in January after winning the November election rematch with Ockomon, who had unseated Smith in the 2007 election.

The lawsuit said the workers involved include a woman who had been the city's utility manager. In mid-December she took a job as a cashier because she was told she would be fired after working for the city for more than 10 years.

Others include the building superintendent for city hall and other facilities who had worked for the city for 24 years and a 33-year street supervisor/dispatcher for the city transportation system.

"Kevin Smith was responsible for the termination of all the plaintiffs because they opposed his election as mayor," the lawsuit said. "Plaintiffs were fired because of their political activities, which were protected by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution."

The lawsuit said all the workers met or exceeded job expectations and that none of them held policy-making positions in the 56,000-person city about 25 miles northeast of Indianapolis.

Another federal suit was filed in mid-March on behalf of two other former employees claiming "retaliatory and unconstitutional discharge" from their jobs.


  • BS
    Chris, That is just wrong. The workers of any government are not political pawns. We used to have a system that let politicians hire cronies to government jobs and it was even more corrupt than it is now where they award contracts to the cronies. But I guess if you are rethuglican it is all good when your party denies someone the right to free speech?
  • at will
    are we an at will state? Thought so. Look this is the risk you take working for govt. The benefit is that the job is super easy. You have to purge government because there are too many people that started out great but sat down on the job.

    Post a comment to this story

    We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
    You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
    Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
    No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
    We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.

    Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

    Sponsored by

    facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

    Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ on Facebook:
    Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ's Tweets on these topics:
    Subscribe to IBJ
    1. In reality, Lilly is maintaining profit by cutting costs such as Indiana/US citizen IT workers by a significant amount with their Tata Indian consulting connection, increasing Indian H1B's at Lillys Indiana locations significantly and offshoring to India high paying Indiana jobs to cut costs and increase profit at the expense of U.S. workers.

    2. I think perhaps there is legal precedence here in that the laws were intended for family farms, not pig processing plants on a huge scale. There has to be a way to squash this judges judgment and overrule her dumb judgement. Perhaps she should be required to live in one of those neighbors houses for a month next to the farm to see how she likes it. She is there to protect the people, not the corporations.

    3. http://www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/engineer/facts/03-111.htm Corporate farms are not farms, they are indeed factories on a huge scale. The amount of waste and unhealthy smells are environmentally unsafe. If they want to do this, they should be forced to buy a boundary around their farm at a premium price to the homeowners and landowners that have to eat, sleep, and live in a cesspool of pig smells. Imagine living in a house that smells like a restroom all the time. Does the state really believe they should take the side of these corporate farms and not protect Indiana citizens. Perhaps justifiable they should force all the management of the farms to live on the farm itself and not live probably far away from there. Would be interesting to investigate the housing locations of those working at and managing the corporate farms.

    4. downtown in the same area as O'malia's. 350 E New York. Not sure that another one could survive. I agree a Target is needed d'town. Downtown Philly even had a 3 story Kmart for its downtown residents.

    5. Indy-area residents... most of you have no idea how AMAZING Aurelio's is. South of Chicago was a cool pizza place... but it pales in comparison to the heavenly thin crust Aurelio's pizza. Their deep dish is pretty good too. My waistline is expanding just thinking about this!