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More MS news articles for January 2004

Discrimination lawsuit against village of Slinger settled

January 7, 2004
West Bend Daily News

A federal discrimination lawsuit against the village of Slinger has been settled out of court.

According to a press release from Administrator Patrick DeGrave, Kathy Bingen, who serves as confidential administrative and engineer assistant, agreed to the settlement, the terms of which have not been disclosed.

When contacted this morning, Bingen deferred all questions to her attorney, Scott Schroeder, but did say she was still employed by the village.

Schroeder and DeGrave both declined to comment on particulars of the settlement.

In 1998 the village hired Bingen, who was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1990.

She was laid off in January 2002, and according to a notice of claim filed with the village in April that year, former Administrator Greg Knowles allegedly approved a transfer of sick time from another employee to Bingen so she could spend time with her dying father. Former Village Board President Sharon Grudzinski allegedly objected to the transfer, claiming Knowles had been deceptive in granting the request.

Bingen asked for $1.5 million in her original notice of claim.

Village attorney Joseph Wirth requested the case be moved from the state court, stating that Bingen's complaint of infringement of her civil rights regarding the Americans with Disabilities Act constituted questions of federal law.

The initial claim, filed with the village by Schroeder, alleged that Village Clerk Dean Otte said, "everyone in the office was 'babying' Bingen and she could come and go as she pleased."

Bingen was back on the job in September 2002.

Her claim also alleged she was terminated in part for speaking out on issues of public concern regarding the election of the village president and termination of former Village Administrator Greg Knowles.

Knowles, according to Bingenâs original claim, was placed on a paid suspension in November 2001 and resigned the following month. A settlement between the former administrator and the village called for Knowles to retain his benefits and be paid $28,980 - an amount equal to his salary from Dec. 19, 2001 through May 31, 2002.

One stipulation in Knowles settlement centered on previous leaks of information to the press was that made the village liable to pay out $10,000 each time particulars of his personnel files were made public.

The claim cited local newspaper articles that contained confidential employee evaluations. Village special attorney Gregory Ladewski met with Bingen to discuss the incident and told all employees that if the leak were found, the person would be fired and sued by the village. Ladewski also told Bingen he was meeting with all employees regarding the matter, but Bingen was the only employee singled out for a private discussion; other employees met as a group with the attorney and Bingen was laid off that day.

Copyright © 2004, West Bend Daily News