"We've reviewed the decision, and we are strongly considering an appeal, given the decision's weakness," said Jon Mayes, the city's chief litigation counsel.
After Linehan's firing, Ackles promoted Alfarena Ballew, who is black. Ackles didn't seek a second term in 2008, but Ballew still serves as chief deputy for the new coroner, Dr. Frank Lloyd Jr.
The commission's decision affirmed an administrative law judge's 2007 finding, which the city had appealed, and awarded Linehan $200,000 in compensatory damages for emotional distress; $129,600 for about two years of lost pay, reduced from the 2007
decision by $34,000; and $62,000 to cover Linehan's attorneys fees and costs.
Few cases result in such high damage awards, Mayes said. Federal law limits compensatory damages alone to $300,000, and he called $35,000 a more typical "rule of thumb."
But the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago often reduces EEOC awards even more, Mayes said, making a new appeal attractive.\
Linehan was gratified by the EEOC decision.
"This still lingers over me, job-wise," said Linehan, 57, who works part time as a paramedic and assists his wife's medical practice. "I'd have to relocate in order to get
another job in forensic work."
I haven't seen the total bill to date to defend all of the discrimination suits filed against the former Marion County Coroner, but I suspect the tab is now approaching $1 million. And that doesn't account for the bone-headed decision the former coroner made in getting rid of the pathology contract with FPAI, which has resulted in several hundred thousand dollars in additional costs for the county annually. And the City is worried about paying Linehan $330,000?
UPDATE: While we're on the subject, the Ballard administration put out this press release today touting improvements in the administration of EEO complaints filed with the City:
Mayor Greg Ballard, joined by Deputy Mayor Olgen Williams, Maxine Russell, Director of the Office of Equal Opportunity (OEO), as well as clients served by the OEO announced today that the newly-restructured Office has succeeded in clearing a backlog of more than 240 cases, some dating back to 2003.Editor's Note: As I've previously disclosed, I represent parties who claim they were discriminated against by the Coroner's Office because of their race, including the former pathologists.
In addition, a streamlined adjudication process designed to operate efficiently and equitably for all parties involved in disputes means the OEO now has the capacity to screen, accept, and process more cases than it was able to accommodate in the past.
“Through diligent work and a complete overhaul of the Office of Equal Opportunity, we have cleared a backlog cases and developed a case management process that guarantees fair, efficient adjudication of new claims,” said Mayor Ballard. “This is a city agency designed to serve anyone who believes they have been discriminated against in Marion County, and I hope those who have a need for this service will bring their cases to us. Our doors are open for business.”
Challenges with the Equal Opportunity adjudication process were identified through the City’s IndyStat program, a management tool developed to improve operations within City-County departments and agencies. The adjudication process lacked structure at the outset, and this problem was compounded by an inadequate investment in Equal Opportunity case management. In addition, lack of screening of complaints resulted in processing cases that did not involve discrimination at all.
The overhaul of the Equal Opportunity Division began with restructuring and moving the Division to the Office of Corporation Counsel, where city attorneys and paralegals were available to judiciously and methodically address each claim of discrimination.
A full-time staff of three individuals is now devoted entirely to the complaint adjudication process with the ability to expand within the Office of Corporation Counsel on an as-needed bas