March 12, 2010
City ready to settle Tingle lawsuit
The city is preparing to settle the sexual harassment complaint Sandra Tingle filed against the city in 2008.
City leaders met in closed session Feb. 22 to discuss settling the case for $30,000. Tingle, who worked as Mayor Gary Becker's assistant from 2003-2008, accuses the city of creating a sexually hostile work environment. She filed suit in July 2008 shortly after she was fired from her city job.
The city hired an outside law firm to investigate Tingle's case, but no merit was found to Tingle's claims. Tingle and her attorney, Nola Cross, then filed a case with the state's Equal Rights Commission, which dismissed the case.
Tingle is now appealing the Equal Rights Division decision and a three-day appeal hearing is scheduled for April. The city hopes to settle the case before this hearing, according to people familiar with the settlement discussions.
The city's motivation for settling is mounting legal fees. It's already spent $70,000 on the case and is on the hook for at least another $40,000 in legal fees before insurance kicks in. There's also a chance Tingle could win the case, which could cost the city hundreds of thousands of dollars more.
Tingle could also file a complaint in federal court, which would cost the city tens of thousands of dollars more in legal fees, plus the risk of losing the case and being on the hook for another big payout.
Any settlement with Tingle will have to be approved by the City Council. City officials close to the discussions said it was unclear when the the council would take up the settlement.
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