JASPER — The City of Jasper reached a settlement with a former city clerk fired in 2018.
According to the settlement agreement, the city is paying Jennifer Hightower $75,000 to drop her lawsuit alleging the city violated the whistleblower statute when it fired her in August 2018.
Hightower filed the lawsuit in November 2018.
According to the lawsuit, Hightower claims she was fired in retaliation for her complaint against former City Manager Charles Williams. Hightower made allegations that Williams threatened her, while carrying a gun, in a holster at City Hall in April 2018.
Hightower was fired by the city council during its August 2018 meeting, one month after a hostile work environment complaint was filed against Hightower by Patricia Herring, the city’s billing clerk.
In that August 2018 meeting, a report from Allen Norton & Blue said that neither Hightower’s complaint against Williams nor the complaint from Herring against Hightower constituted a hostile working environment.
The investigation report for Herring’s complaint states “However, the information obtained does indicate that Hightower has a pattern of unprofessional conduct that has had a negative impact on the working environment and has acted in a manner that is inconsistent with the best interest of the City.”
According to Hightower’s complaint, Williams threatened her while he was carrying a gun in a holster at City Hall and raised his voice at her after she refused to place an item on the agenda.
According to Herring’s complaint, she was being falsely accused of wrongdoing stemming from questions pertaining to zoning.
The council then voted to fire Hightower by a 3-2 vote.
As part of the settlement reached, Hightower agrees to not seek future employment with the city.