The City of Rogersville is being sued by former employee Nancy Edson in the Webster County Circuit Court.
Edson is seeking damages in excess of $25,000 for a charge of discrimination that she filed with the Missouri Commission on Human Rights, which issued a right to sue. The case is currently in the discovery stage before trial.
Edson started working for the City of Rogersville approximately 16 years ago, according to her petition for damages, filed June 25, and she served as the town’s city administrator for 14 years of that time.
In September 2017, former Rogersville Mayor Jack Cole approached the plaintiff about the possibility of splitting the city administrator role into two positions, city administrator and director of finance. At that time, Edson was performing both roles and earning $76,500.
The complaint notes that Edson was placed in the role of director of finance, and Larry Sutton was hired to serve as city administrator. Sutton had previously worked in a municipality that is smaller than Rogersville, according to the petition.
Sutton was offered $75,000 to serve as city administrator. When it was discovered that Edson was making about $76,000, Sutton was given an additional raise of $500 per month. When Edson questioned the pay, she was told that the difference in pay was because she took insurance for her family and Sutton did not, according to the complaint. When she again questioned the pay differential, she was told that she was paid less because Sutton had more experience.
Edson’s complaint states that after Sutton took over in 2018, the workplace became hostile and intolerable for the plaintiff. She reportedly began to be singled out and excluded. For example, while other board members and Sutton rode together to a conference in Jefferson City, Edson had to drive herself to the conference, and no invitation was extended.
Edson’s complaint outlines an angry verbal response by Sutton to her emailed question about obtaining a possible gap loan, as well as instances where she claims Sutton asked her to type his handwritten letters and notes. Edson refused to act as his secretary, according to the complaint.
The petition outlines a sustained period during which Sutton refused to speak to her following her refusal to type for him, and it notes that Mayor Cole required Edson to apologize to Sutton for refusing to act as his assistant and for raising issues related to potential illegal activities surrounding purchasing. Edson apologized as instruction.
“Around this time, when she (Edson) requested a copy of her job description or Rogersville’s organizational chart, Sutton refused,” the complaint states.
The complaint details hostile behavior and a termination offer. It states, “Plaintiff was offered a severance offering to pay her additional wages if she released claims of discrimination or harassment.” Edson refused to sign this offer, then learned that a male had been hired to perform city accounting duties at a rate of $80 per hour.
The complaint includes two counts of violations of the Missouri Human Rights Act. The first count is for discrimination, as the plaintiff believes she was subjected to a hostile and discriminatory work environment based on her gender, and the other is for retaliation, as the plaintiff states she was discharged for her objections to the discriminatory behavior.
The case states that Edson suffered lost income and benefits, lost career opportunities and mental and emotional anguish. She is seeking both compensatory and punitive damages.
A trial date has not yet been set in Missouri CaseNet.