The city of Hot Springs, Ark., has settled a 2015 civil rights/whistleblower lawsuit alleging the deputy city manager fired a city employee for corroborating a female coworker’s sexual harassment claim against him.
The $87,500 settlement led a federal judge on Nov. 28 to dismiss Bill Boyles’ lawsuit against deputy city manager Bill Burrough and the city.
The city released the settlement terms following a request from The Sentinel-Record under the Arkansas Freedom of Information Act.
City Attorney Brian Albright said Burrough and the city weren’t required to admit any wrongdoing as part of the agreement. Albright said the settlement avoided the uncertainty of a federal jury trial that was scheduled to begin Dec. 5.
“We were confident there was no wrongdoing, but you never know what’s going to happen in a trial,” he said.
In the lawsuit filed in August 2015, Boyles alleged Burrough fired him from his managerial position in the city’s solid waste department after Boyles helped a female colleague lodge a sexual harassment complaint against Burrough in 2014.
The colleague, Margaret Hillistad, had filed a discrimination lawsuit in September 2015 against the city and multiple officials, including Burrough. The lawsuit alleged Hillistad, who was acting solid waste director at the time, was passed over for the director position as result of the sexual harassment complaint.
It also alleged that the defendants violated the Family Medical Leave Act by firing Hillistad without notifying her that she has used up her leave time. While a settlement conference was held in November, Albright said Hillistad and the city of Hot Springs have not yet agreed to terms.