Former Monroeville manager McKinney files suit, claims unfair firing
Former Monroeville manager Lynette McKinney filed a lawsuit against the municipality saying council's action last month to fire her was “unreasonable and arbitrary.”
The complaint seeking declaratory judgement filed last week requested that an Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas judge determine whether McKinney, 47, legally is entitled to $44,000 of severance pay, $29,000 in benefits such as sick days and vacation days, and legal fees associated with the lawsuit.
Council denied McKinney a severance package because she was removed “with cause,” Monroeville solicitor Bruce Dice said.
But the ordinance drafted to remove her doesn't specify one charge against her, said Forest Hills attorney Jack Cambest, who is representing McKinney.
“We're saying the ordinance is vague and unconstitutional,” Cambest said.
And the terms of McKinney's former contract that address severance pay also are vague and therefore invalid, according to the lawsuit.
McKinney's contract reads that she would not receive severance pay if she is “found liable for (an) intentional act relating to the performance of her duties.”
Her lawsuit said the contract does not state who must find her liable or what constitutes an intentional act relating to the performance of their duty.
Dice argued that while specific charges were not included with the ordinance to remove McKinney, the charges were read aloud at the same public meeting and therefore are valid.
Charges read aloud at the Jan. 6 meeting included failure to conduct evaluations of department heads and failure to provide information about an ongoing internal investigation of the computer dispatch system to three members of council.
Dice cited section 704 of the Monroeville Home Rule Charter that reads the removal of a manager “shall not be subject to review by any court or agency.”
“(The HRC) was passed by the people, not by some council,” Dice said.
If McKinney is denied a court hearing or if a judge rules against her, she would not receive a severance package — according to the terms of her former contract.
After council members removed McKinney, they appointed former Monroeville manager Tim Little as the interim manager.
Mayor Greg Erosenko said last week he is confident that council eventually will name Little as the new manager.
“There's no movement on that,” Erosenko said. “But I'm sure that will change in the future.”
McKinney, a longtime municipal employee, was named manager in 2013.
Kyle Lawson is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-856-7400, ext. 8755, or firstname.lastname@example.org.