Michigan county attorney alleges firing over complaint

May 14, 2018

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (AP) — A former southwest Michigan attorney claimed she was fired just days after she told supervisors that she planned to file a civil rights complaint.

The Kalamazoo Gazette obtained documents through an open records request showing that Kalamazoo County assistant corporation counsel Amber Beebe was terminated for workplace misconduct and violating county policies in March.

Beebe, who is black, alleged the county crafted a reason to fire her after discovering she intended to file a discrimination claim based on her race and disability status.

The county denies Beebe’s allegations, said Corporation Counsel Elizabeth White.

A termination notice lists reasons for Beebe’s firing as insubordination, using county resources to maintain a private law practice and raising a “reckless and baseless” allegation against a county administrator.

“Ms. Beebe was terminated as a result of information obtained during the course of the investigation,” White said. “Her termination was not related to any statement that she intended to file a civil rights complaint.”

Beebe declined to comment.

A grievance was filed with the county board chair last month alleging Beebe was illegally fired, but the claim was dismissed. Discrimination charges were filed with the Michigan Department of Civil Rights several days later.

Instances of discrimination began in July 2017 when Beebe wasn’t accommodated with a standing desk for chronic back spasms, according to the complaint.

“I believe that I was discharged in retaliation for complaining (and) denied reasonable accommodations of my disability,” Beebe said.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission closed Beebe’s complaint last month after being unable to conclude the law was broken.

Board Chair Stephanie Moore said she wasn’t surprised by the complaint or the discrimination allegations.

“If you look at the county and their (management) hiring process and promotions, especially women of color, you’ll see a pattern there,” Moore said. “That’s not necessarily a place that is welcoming and accepting of diversity and inclusion.”


Information from: Kalamazoo Gazette, http://www.mlive.com/kalamazoo

Update hourly