Pittsburgh must pay former dispatcher $645,450 for wrongful firing
By Adam Brandolph
Published: Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2014, 11:42 p.m.
The city of Pittsburgh must pay a former 911 dispatcher $645,450 for wrongfully firing her and preventing her from getting a similar job with Allegheny County, a judge ordered.
Common Pleas Judge Judith L.A. Friedman said on Tuesday that city officials “wrongfully discharged” Rosanne Hendrick in 2004 and then “constructed a Catch-22” that kept her from transferring to the county when the two merged 911 dispatch services.
Neither Hendrick, 54, of Sheraden nor her lawyers, Dennis Blackwell and James Cooney, could be reached for comment on Wednesday. No one from the city's law department was available.
According to a civil complaint Hendrick filed in Common Pleas Court in October 2007, she was hired as a full-time dispatcher in 1989.
In late 2003 she reported to the Allegheny County District Attorney's Office and the Pennsylvania Attorney General's Office that her co-workers and supervisors were gambling illegally, the complaint said.
Although neither office filed charges as a result of their investigations, Hendrick said in the complaint her co-workers devised a “scheme to punish her” beginning on March 1, 2004, with a five-day suspension because of a 2-year-old dispute with a co-worker. Then-Public Safety Director Robert Kennedy fired her two weeks later. She was making $17 an hour.
Hendrick's termination was on appeal when the city and county consolidated its 911 operations in 2004.
Under the terms of the consolidation, the county hired every city employee who wanted a job and whose name was on a list of those eligible to transfer. Hendrick's name was not on the list.
The city argued that Hendrick's complaint was filed after the statute of limitations had passed. Friedman disagreed. She awarded Hendrick $645,450 based on lost wages and pension benefits.
Adam Brandolph is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-391-0927 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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