January 26, 2009

FMLA discrimination complaint filed against city

A discrimination complaint filed today against the City of Racine, and specifically City Administrator Ben Hughes, has few specifics.

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.


  1. Great Job Ben!
    How much is he going to cost Racne before we fire him?

    Fire Ben Hughes immediately, the longer you leave him in office the more broke Racine is going to become paying his stupid ass lawsuits, since he has an inferior complex and tries to make himself feel like a man by harassing women. Aldermen with all due respect, if you do not terminate this idiot, you'll be out of a job too!

  3. Aldermen, please note:
    I thought I would take the time out of my busy schedule of trying to raise my daughters to be good, smart, independent women, keeping a roof over our heads and food in the cupboard to give you a heads up so you don’t waste any time in wondering what the hell to do with BEN HUGHES. This is out of our wonderful municipal codes which I found very easily on the cityofracine.org website……. Please note the part where you can FIRE HIS ASS……
    Sec. 2-539. Suspension, removal.
    Whenever any charge of official misconduct or inefficiency shall be preferred against the city administrator, the common council shall proceed within 30 days, or such other time as agreed between the parties, after the charge so filed with the city clerk, to hear and determine the case upon its merits. The mayor may suspend the city administrator until the disposition of the charges and appoint a person to fill the vacancy temporarily until the charges have been disposed of. The common council may, for the purpose of such hearing, compel the attendance of witnesses and the production of all papers by subpoena when necessary for the purpose of such hearing. A majority of all the members of the common council elect shall have the power to dismiss such person for malfeasance, misconduct or inefficiency in office, upon due process hearing as provided in this section.
    (Ord. No. 16-03, pt. 1, 8-4-03)

  4. Why don't we wait and see if there is merit to this case. Same lawyer as Tingle. Maybe there is some kind of vendetta here.

  5. The common demoninator here is Hughes. Two cases here, one is his prior job in Wrightstown. Something is wrong with the guy to have three women file complaints within a couple year time frame.

  6. 6:33 and the number one backer of Hughes was Mayor Garry Becker. You know the guy who got picked up the child sex thing 14 year old the text messaging..
    Tingle will win her case so will this women I am guessing.
    So happy that we have Hughes makes so well off

  7. Check on Ben Hughes last job - released for similar accusations.

  8. http://www.blogtalkradio.com/Storm-Racine/2009/01/27/The-West-Racine-Issue-Taking-back-Racine

    8:00 AM Tuesday

  9. Anon 8:23 -

    Sorry to burst your bubble, but no, he was not released. He left that job to come to Racine.

    People should settle down and let the facts come to light. Allegations are just that.

  10. No he wasn't released but he left that job only a couple months after that incident and came here.

  11. Ben is a huge liability as a city employee. Glad we have all the extra funds laying around for his legal defense. Maybe the city could lower my taxes since the city has so much extra money. The city council is ignoring the fact that ben huges is a liability.

  12. The common thread here is not Ben Hughes but Nola Cross. Cross has a reputation for taken on cases likethis and smearing good people. The state found no merits in Tingle's claim against Hughes and I doubt they will find cause in Grammer's case. Before jumping to conclusions, ask people who work in the health department whether or not Grammer was a competent administrator. Nola Cross should be ashamed of herself-her mou is to make wild allegations and then force a settlement. Lets see if she can win in the court of law-most settlements come about because the party being sued has to spend a large amount of money to defend themselves against baseless charges.

    Colt, you need to get a life instead of dreaming up all these little scenarios. On a different note, you wont vote for paul Ryan because he is a rino but you're all gaga over Pete Karas an avowed socialist? Go figure.

  13. Hughes was in this position, what a year? And he has two women filing complaints against him? And how long was he in his last job where he had a woman lodge a complaint against him there too? I don't know a single other person who has had so many complaints filed against them like this. I do not believe the problem is the attorney, obviously the women involved went to her, not the other way around.

  14. Anonymous 1/27/2009 6:53 AM

    Left the job or forced to resign? Usually people stay in a job more than a year. Is it just a coincidence that similar accusations are being presented here? I don't think so! Hughes was chosen by Becker and that should be reason enough to get rid of him!

  15. Anon 5:06, Anon 10:12, Anon 6:42, Anon 8:23 etc. etc.:

    I'd love to hear more about this -- with actual facts The alleged woman in Wrightstown, the former police chief, a woman who had not held the job long, left due to illness. There was no lawsuit, no money paid or asked for as far as I've been able to determine.

    If someone has FACTS showing otherwise, I'd love to see them. Otherwise, give it a rest.

  16. The Wrightstown incident was settled BEFORE going to court so they closed the records, and yes there are documented issues from Hughes up there, just ask around.