According to court documents filed in May, Former Manchester Public Works Director Brent Carter is seeking damages that could reach more than $1 million from Manchester City.
Our News Partner The Manchester Times reports, Carter is seeking backpay and front pay, lost sick and vacation time, and attorney’s fees, which would all be tripled.
He is seeking $927,808 in addition to lost sick time and attorney’s fees. The estimated amount of lost sick time and attorney’s fees will be tripled.
The value of sick time has not been determined yet.
“The Plaintiff cannot remember how much time was at issue for the claim about sick time and vacation time. Therefore, he will need records from the City to figure that out,” the documents state.
Carter filed a lawsuit against the City of Manchester for violation of the First Amendment, the Tennessee’s Public Employee Political Freedom Act (PEPFA), and for deprivation of property without due process.
According to PEPFA, it’s unlawful for any public employer to discipline or discriminate against an employee because the employee exercised his or her right to communicate with an elected official.
Carter became the director of Public Works in 2006, and Lonnie Norman was elected for mayor of Manchester City in 2012.
Carter alleges that Norman was pressuring him to “buy local,” which meant “spending the City’s tax money on businesses that were politically connected to Mayor Lonnie Norman and his friends — as opposed to shopping for whichever business offered the best price,” Carter claims.
When Norman became aware Carter had purchased supplies at a rival business instead of a politically connected business, he would call up Carter and order him to “buy local,” according to the lawsuit. Norman also pressured Carter not to speak with other elected officials. Carter was threatened that he would be fired if he spoke with an alderman about any decisions.
The lawsuit alleges that the City of Manchester violated Carter’s “First Amendment rights to speak freely and to petition his government for redress of grievances.”
By threatening to fire the plaintiff outright, and then by choosing to demote him instead, in retaliation for his acts of speaking to an elected official, the City of Manchester violated PEPFA, according to the lawsuit.
By depriving Carter of his vested sick time without cause and without any procedural protections, the City of Manchester deprived him of property without due process and in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment, according to the lawsuit
The information in this story is only one side of the legal issue.