Originally Posted Online: Feb. 19, 2013, 11:00 am
Last Updated: Feb. 19, 2013, 6:26 pm

Airport board OKs $550,000 payment to fired finance director

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By Dawn Neuses, dneuses@qconline.com

MOLINE -- The board of the Metropolitan Airport Authority of Rock Island County voted this morning to pay a former employee $550,000 to settle a discrimination claim.

The board, in approving the settlement with former director of finance Holly Green, did not concede any liability or fault, and maintained it has never discriminated in employment decisions.

The vote to approve the settlement was 5-0, with one commissioner, Jim Bohnsack, voting "present." Two commissioners, Molly Foley and Robert Leibovitz. were absent for the vote,

Ms. Green was fired in December, 2011. She filed a charge of discrimination with the Illinois Department of Human Rights and the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

The settlement states the Department of Human Rights dismissed the claims for lack of substantial evidence, but Ms. Green then informed the airport board she planned to file a lawsuit.

Ms. Green's attorney, John Doak, said he was not authorized to comment on the nature of Ms. Green's discrimination complaints. "The matter was resolved to her satisfaction and she has no further comment on the matter," Mr. Doak said.

The airport authority attorney,Sigrid Zaehringer, said the discrimination claims were a personnel matter covered in the Department of Human Rights complaint, and did not comment further.

"The airport is happy to move forward, feels it acted legally and properly," she said, adding the airport is happy with the settlement because it is in its best interest to avoid a lot of time and expense.

The agreement also names aviation director Bruce Carter and assistant aviation director Bryan Johnson as respondents in the matter.

The airport's insurance carrier will pay the settlement.

According to the settlement document:

-- Ms. Green and the authority agreed to keep the nature, terms and conditions of the agreement "strictly confidential." Ms. Green may share information with her spouse and children, but must instruct anyone she tells, "of the confidential nature of the settlement, and to obtain a pledge from those individuals to maintain confidentiality." If she violates those terms, she has to pay the authority liquidated damages in the amount of the settlement plus costs to collect the damages.

-- Ms. Green agreed not to make any written or oral statement that "disparages, defames, or reflects adversely" on the authority, Mr. Carter, Mr. Johnson, the airport or any of its employees.

-- Of the total settlement, Ms. Green will get $366,685, minus all withholding on or before Feb. 28, 2013. The insurance company will also pay $183,315 to the company for which Mr. Doak works, Katz, Huntoon & Fieweger, P.C.

-- The payments represent the full settlement of all claims against the authority, Mr. Carter and Mr. Johnson, in connection with Ms. Green's "charge or draft lawsuit."

-- Of the money Ms. Green receives, $119,000 is designated as 14 months of back pay. Ms. Green will pay 4.5 percent, or the current percentage required, toward her IMRF employee contribution. The authority will make its employer contribution, which is expected to be $14,875.

-- Ms. Green agreed to "fully and forever releases and discharges and agrees not to bring a claim for damages" against the authority, Mr. Carter, Mr. Johnson, under various federal or state acts, including civil rights, Family and Medical Leave, fair labor standards, human rights and whistle-blower.

-- Ms. Green agreed to never aid in the prosecution of any claim, demand, action brought by another against the authority arising out of her former employment or her termination of employment.

The settlement states the authority made the agreement at the direction of its insurance carrier. "While the (airport authority) and its insurance carrier believe it has acted legally, there is a potential for additional legal proceedings. Those legal proceedings are both costly and time consuming and not in the organization's best interest. Therefore, the insurance carrier and (airport authority) have entered into this settlement."

Mr. Carter declined to comment on the settlement after the meeting.

Commissioner Bohnsack said he voted "present" because he was only recently appointed to the board and because Ms. Green has an employment relationship with his daughter.