City Health Director Janelle M. Grammer filed the Family and Medical Leave Complaint, charging she was discriminated against by Hughes after she asked for medical leave early in December. The complaint notes only that Grammer originally asked, verbally, on Dec. 8 and in writing on Dec. 16, for leave until Dec. 22. At some point, her return date changed to Jan. 22, although now, we are told, it isn't until Feb. 17.
The complaint states:
The City of Racine is discriminating and retaliating against Complainant as punishment for taking FMLA leave. While on FMLA leave, Ben Hughes (City Administrator), reprimanded and criticized Ms. Grammer for her need to take leave for her serious health condition. For all practical purposes, Mr. Hughes warned Ms. Grammer about her having taken the medical leave, and also created a laundry list of performance issues of questionable veracity and that had not existed in prior performance evaluations. In doing so, Mr. Hughes threatened "disciplinary actions," which presumptively include termination. Mr. Hughes waited until about she went on FMLA leave to take these adverse actions. He would not have done this if she had not taken FMLA leave."Grammer has been City Health Director since October 2005. Prior to that, the department was run for 10 years by Diane Muri, who retired in February 2005. The city hired an outside firm and did a nationwide search for Muri's replacement, finally hiring Thomas Gecewicz. City payroll records show that Gecewicz was on staff for eight days, from May 16 to May 24, 2005, but the reality is that he was fired during his first day on the job. Grammer, his replacement, had been on the list of candidates submitted by the search firm.
Grammer, whose complaint against the city was filed with the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development Equal Rights Division, is represented by Atty. Nola Cross, the same lawyer representing Sandra Tingle, the former administrative assistant who filed a discrimination complaint against Hughes and former Mayor Gary Becker on Aug. 1, 2008. That suit was dismissed by the state on Nov. 26.
The city has referred Grammer's complaint to the Milwaukee law firm of Davis and Kuelthau, and attorney Mark Olson, the same lawyer who handled the Tingle complaint.