Friday, May 15, 2009
Ex-Hoosier Lottery Director Has Cost Taxpayers Millions
Gov. Mitch Daniels' decision to hire political hack Esther Schneider to run the Hoosier Lottery Commission earlier in his administration has cost taxpayers millions in payouts to settle employment discrimination lawsuits and attorney fees associated with defending those lawsuits as a result of Schneider's employment decisions. Last year, the Hoosier Lottery paid Janna Shisler, a disabled legal counsel for the agency fired by Schneider, $225,000 to settle a claim she brought against Schneider and the state for discriminating against her under the Americans With Disabilities Act. Today, the Star's Jon Murray reports on a settlement the Hoosier Lottery entered into with 8 former African-American employees of the Lottery Commission who were fired by Schneider and sued Schneider and the state for racial discrimination. The average payout to the fired workers under the terms of a $2.8 million settlement is $238,585.31, with $841,317.55 of the settlement being paid out to the plaintiffs' attorney. The payouts to the former employees may seem high, but according to Murray's report, 6 of the 8 employees had worked at the Hoosier Lottery Commission since it was created in 1989. The other two employees had worked there since 1997. Schneider left her position in 2006 under an ethical cloud, but the state's inspector general later cleared her of any wrongdoing.