The Woodward News

January 16, 2013

Federal lawsuit filed by former City employee

Woodward News

Woodward, Okla. — A former dispatcher has filed a discrimination lawsuit in federal court against the City of Woodward.

Mindi E. Livshee is claiming wrongful termination from her job as a dispatcher based on religious discrimination, according to the lawsuit filed on Dec. 21, 2012 in the Western District Court of Oklahoma.

According to records filed with the lawsuit, Livshee is seeking  $100,000 in damages and has demanded a jury trial.

In the lawsuit, Livshee said she worked for the City from October 2005 until her termination around Dec. 27, 2011 as a dispatcher in the 911 communications center.

The lawsuit claims that on a regular basis during Livshee's employment with the City she was exposed to religious comments and written material from her supervisor even though the supervisor knew Livshee was Jewish and objected to being confronted with Christian religious comments and material.

The lawsuit also alleges that each month Livshee's supervisor prepared a newsletter that contained additional Christian religious comments and/or images.

"By its actions, City supports and promotes the Christian religion effectively disfavoring Livshee and her religious beliefs, as well as other non-adherents," according to the lawsuit.

The suit also claims Livshee's supervisor posted a religious picture and bible verse on a work monitor used by 911 dispatchers.

In the lawsuit Livshee said she complained about the situation, but the only thing that was actually done was that a Bible verse was removed for a short to-ime from the wall of the dispatch area.

According to the lawsuit, after Livshee complained she was subjected to additional harassment and disciplinary action, making her attendance and work suffer and she was eventually terminated.

In the lawsuit, Livshee said she received “Satisfactory” ratings on her performance evaluations throughout her employment with the City.

The lawsuit claims Livshee applied for unemployment and the City "wrongfully interfered" with her application.

According to the lawsuit, Livshee filed a charge of discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission and the EEOC on Sept. 26, 2012 issued a notice of right to sue.

The cause of action portions of the lawsuit claim Livshee was subjected to discrimination, retaliation, harassment and a hostile work environment and was denied equal employment opportunities with the City based on her religious beliefs in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.

The lawsuit also claims the City violated Oklahoma's anti-discrimination statutes

The lawsuit claims the City knew of the hostile working environment and permitted it  to continue and that the City treated Livshee differently than other co-workers with respect to disciplinary measures.

The lawsuit is asking Livshee be granted full relief, including back pay, reinstatement or front pay, prejudgement interest, promotions, benefits, including but not limited to, unpaid medical, dental and life insurance benefits, retirement benefits and liquidated damages and emotional distress. She is also asking for punitive damages.

City of Woodward Attorney Aaron Sims said in an e-mail statement: "The City of Woodward is aware of the federal lawsuit filed by Mindi E. Livshee, however the City has not received service of summons in the lawsuit. The City will not have any comment or issue any response to the allegations in the lawsuit until such time as the City is properly served."

Livshee is represented Oklahoma City attorneys Kevin R. Donelson and Kelsie M. Sullivan .

The case is 5:12-cv-01411-D