Former state worker gets $1.1 million in settlement

November 3, 2017

COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — The state of Missouri will pay $1.1 million to settle two sex and age discrimination lawsuits filed by a former state employee.

The Columbia Tribune on Wednesday obtained a copy of the settlement finalized this week on behalf of Cindy Guthrie.

Guthrie and former Missouri Division of Employment Security director Gracia Backer filed suit in 2014 naming former Missouri Department of Labor and Industrial Relations director Larry Rebman, then-Gov. Jay Nixon and others.

The lawsuit accused Rebman of firing Guthrie for refusing orders that overstepped his authority. It accused Nixon of firing Backer when she reported Rebman’s actions. Guthrie filed a second lawsuit in 2016. The settlement resolves both suits.

The state reached a separate $2 million settlement with Backer in December.

Guthrie’s attorney, Roger Brown, called the settlement “fair under the given circumstances.” He said the actions “destroyed” Guthrie’s career.

Loree Anne Paradise, spokeswoman for Attorney General Josh Hawley, said the office “must make strategic litigation decisions” on cases, even those from previous administrations.

“There is no place for discrimination in the work place and this settlement makes that clear,” Paradise said in a statement.

Guthrie alleged she was passed over for promotions, including when a new position was created in her division when a man with less experience was given the job.

Guthrie was fired in February 2013 after a 31-year career in which she rose to chief of the Employer Contributions Section, the state division that assigns the tax rates paid by companies to fund Missouri’s unemployment insurance program. After she filed a complaint, she was reinstated with back pay in July 2013.

Soon after Guthrie’s dismissal, Nixon moved Rebman to an administrative law job in Kansas City and fired Backer, who in her part of the lawsuit accused Nixon of retaliation against her for reporting Rebman in writing.

Guthrie quit in 2015 when her job was restructured and her pay grade was reduced.


Information from: Columbia Daily Tribune, http://www.columbiatribune.com

Update hourly