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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.