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Monday, November 30, 2009

City pays $145,000 in bias case

Former ITS director claimed reverse discrimination played role in firing.

Updated 11:26 PM Thursday, November 19, 2009

DAYTON — The Dayton City Commission has agreed to pay a $145,000 settlement to an employee who claims reverse discrimination played a role in his firing.

William E. Hill, once the city’s director of Information and Technology Services, is white. He was fired by former City Manager Rashad Young, who is black.

City officials and Young declined to comment on the award. Hill’s attorney also did not respond to a request for an interview.

Hill’s personnel file and a 13-page investigative report commissioned by the city pieced together with the lawsuit Hill filed in Montgomery County Commons Pleas Court tell a tale of two men who started out working cordially together.

Hill worked for the city since 1980, including 17 years as a police officer. In 1997, he became the director of ITS.

Hill also continued activities as a sworn officer first with the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office and later as a special deputy in Greene County.

Young, then deputy director of ITS and still working his way up the ranks at City Hall, reported to Hill.

But, before he left to take a job in Cincinnati in 2002, Young was named acting assistant city manager. Hill claims Young urged him to hire his step-grandfather, Charles Evans, as deputy director of ITS, according to the lawsuit. Hill acted on Young’s suggestion.

When Young returned to Dayton in 2005 as an assistant city manager, he was given authority over the ITS department, including Hill and Evans.

“Caught between grandfather and grandson, Hill began to experience difficulties with Evans and in his relationship with those above him in city management,” the lawsuit states.

Problems escalated when Hill issued a reprimand to Evans for violation of the city’s sick leave policy.

“Evans exploded in response, accused Hill of being a racist, indicated he would take the matter to his grandson, and threatened that Hill’s employment would be terminated ...,” according to the lawsuit.

A 2005 work review in Hill’s employment file found him to be superior in terms of technical competence, but “unacceptable in terms of judgment, management style and execution.”

Then-City Manager James Dinneen concluded Hill should be fired based on these deficiencies. Young persuaded Dinneen to give Hill a poor review and no raise.

In March 2005, city officials told Hill he must quit working for the Greene County sheriff or lose his city job, in accordance with the City Charter.

Hill claimed former City Manager Valerie Lemmie orally promised him he could remain a sworn officer and he appealed the decision to the city’s Code of Ethics Committee (of which Young was a member). Hill lost.

Federal investigators entered the fray in 2006 seizing computers, disc drives, VCR tapes, compact discs and DVDs from Evans’ office and home. He pleaded guilty in United States District Court in 2008 to one count of possession of child pornography.

Hill also came under investigation — by city officials — when an employee complained that inappropriate e-mails were being sent throughout the city e-mail system.

Dinneen put Hill on administrative leave on March 28, 2006.

“... I believe Mr. Hill did not fully cooperate in the March 28 investigation of the circumstances regarding his participation in the inappropriate e-mail traffic, and that this lack of cooperation, is, alone, an adequate reason for termination of his employment, if you should choose to exercise your discretion in this matter,” Paul Hallinan of Porter Wright Morris & Arthur stated in an investigative report to Young.

Young hired Hallinan on July 14, 2006, after Dinneen left Dayton to take a job in Florida.

Young signed off on Hill’s firing on Oct. 5, 2006.

City records show that during Young’s tenure as a manager in Dayton, 50 percent of the 24 employees he hired where white men.

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