Lawsuit settlement costs city $11,500

Feb. 05, 2013 @ 06:53 PM

City leaders are paying $11,500 to settle the discrimination lawsuit former Human Relations Director Yvonne Peña’s filed against them in connection with her firing in 2011.

Documents released Tuesday at The Herald-Sun’s request show Peña will receive $7,667. The rest goes to her lawyer, Norman Smith.

City officials also agreed during a December mediation to “provide an employment testimonial letter” to Peña, the wording of which was subject to additional negotiations.

Peña in return agreed to never again seek or take a job on the city payroll.

Both sides also agreed they will not “denigrate, defame, disparage or cast aspersions” on each other, according to the settlement documents Peña and City Manager Tom Bonfield signed last month.

The terms of the final documents on that score were somewhat different from the points the two sides agreed to during the December mediation.

They said the city would “not initiate any contact with the media” and that Peña would only disclose terms to paid advisers or a spouse.

The final settlement acknowledged that there was “no expectation of privacy” about the deal. State law bars cities and counties from signing confidential out-of-court settlements, save in medical malpractice cases.

Peña was arguing that her firing was the result of discrimination based on her age and Hispanic ancestry.

The two sides did agree they would not disclose anything about their negotiations, to include their rationale for settling.

Bonfield sacked Peña in the spring of 2011. Court records and a termination letter – the latter being public record under terms of then-recently amended state law – indicate that the move followed squabbles between Peña and her subordinates.

The payment to Peña was in line with what the city paid to settle at least one other federal lawsuit.

In 2008 it paid freelance photographer Julian Harrison $11,500 to dispose of a civil-rights lawsuit Harrison filed after a police captain threw him over the hood of a parked car.