Dawn Townley rejected a settlement offer in a lawsuit against the city.
(Photo: Wikimedia)

Dawn Townley rejected a settlement offered by the defendants in the Dawn Townley v. Hillsdale City Council, Hillsdale Board of Public Utilities, David Mackie, and Mike Barber case. It will go to trial Sept. 8.

Townley, previously employed by the Hillsdale Board of Public Utilities as finance controller, filed suit against the city of Hillsdale and the BPU on Nov. 10 for violating state and federal whistleblower protection laws and committing Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress, unlawful gender discrimination, and disability discrimination against her in violation of state and federal laws.

According to documents filed in the Western District Court of Michigan, Southern Division, Townley claims that, shortly after being hired by the BPU in January 2016, Mackie asked her to investigate “suspicions that former Director Rick Rose and accountant Annette Kinney had been embezzling from the organization.”

At Barber’s request, the city hired local auditing firm Plante Moran to help Townley “get the books in order” at the BPU shortly after Townley’s hire.

During her investigation of Rose and Kinney, Townley claims she discovered that current BPU Director Mike Barber had also been embezzling money from the city through using the city credit card to pay for his family to accompany him on business trips.

Townley claims that after this discovery, Barber began harassing her in the workplace with the intention of “pushing” her out.

Mackie and Barber claim Townley was eventually fired because “she was not performing her duties, was not completing tasks, was insubordinate, was inappropriate in her behavior, failed to supervise her staff and/or be accessible to them, made threats and failed to come to work on a regular basis.

The defendants also deny Townley’s claims that she was “pushed out” or that they violated whistleblower protection laws, gender discrimination laws, or disability discrimination laws. The defendants claim that no evidence has been found confirming that Rose and Kinney embezzled money from the city and that “the only credit card abuse that has been confirmed is that committed by the Plaintiff herself,” for using the city card for personal medical treatment.

Neither Townley nor Barber could be reached for comment, and Mackie declined to comment.