A lawsuit filed against Rose Township in U.S. District Court by former Rose Township Constable Emile Bair is being settled out of court.
Bair alleged in the lawsuit that his employment with
Rose Township was unjustly terminated in early 2018. According to court documents, Bair waged 58 allegations against Rose Township. In its answer, the township denied all but a few of those 58 allegations “for the reason they are untrue.”
At a special meeting held Thursday, May 30, the Rose Township Board of Trustees met in closed session to consult with the township attorney regarding trial or settlement strategy in connection with pending litigation in the Emile Bair v Rose Township case, United States District Court.
As is permitted in the Michigan Open Meetings Act, this discussion took place in closed executive session. The vote to authorize the township attorney to settle the suit was subsequently made during public session.
Bair was seeking an amount to exceed $75,000, exclusive of interests and costs. His wife, Katherine, declined to give the amount of the settlement.
The case was expected to go to a jury trial on April 7, 2020, according to court documents. The scheduling order was signed by Stephen J. Murphy III, United States district judge on April 2 of this year.
In May of 2018, Bair’s wife Katherine said she filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) regarding the actions involving township personnel and the letter of resignation they had her husband sign. On Tuesday, Oct. 2, 2018, Katherine confirmed that the EEOC had opened an investigation into her husband’s case. She filed the complaint with the EEOC on Aug. 20, 2018. The township board discussed it in closed session at its Oct. 10, 2018 meeting, after which it appears they took no action.
It is unknown at this time whether the EEOC was behind Bair’s lawsuit.
This week, Kimberly Smith-Brown, spokeswoman and director for the communications staff at the EEOC said, “Under federal law, all possible charges (complaints) made to the EEOC are strictly confidential, and we are prohibited from commenting on them, furnishing any information on them, or even confirming or denying the existence of such a charge. Any written materials or decisions that may have resulted from a charge or any resulting investigation are likewise confidential by law and they are not available via FOIA request.
“Only when and if we file suit — usually a last resort after other outcomes are attempted — are we allowed to furnish any information,” she said.
When asked this week why the board decided to settle out of court, Rose Township Supervisor Dianne Scheib-Snider said, “Following the advice of our attorney the Rose Township Board will not comment on pending litigation.”
During both the Feb. 14, 2018 and March 14, 2018 Rose Township Board of Trustees meetings, it was reported that Bair, now 76, was asking people in the township to help him. Township personnel said he could no longer do his job and their bringing a letter of resignation to his health care facility to sign was his doing and that he requested it.
But at the Feb. 14, 2018 meeting, Katherine said publicly, “Imagine my shock that someone from this office went to the (care facility) to have my husband sign it without my knowledge.
“We’re not ready to commit at this time.” She further stated that this sounds like “collusion,” and that she is having an attorney look at it. “How dare you,” she told the board at the time.
The constable position at Rose Township will never appear on the ballot again. The Rose Township Board of Trustees voted to dissolve the position once it expires in November 2020.
Emile, who held the elected office for decades, became ill, putting in jeopardy his ability to do the job. After some prior discrepancies on whether he really intended to resign, the Board of Trustees accepted his signed letter of resignation by a vote of 3 to 2. Clerk Debbie Miller and Trustee Glen Noble cast the dissenting votes.
The family was given 30 days to bring to the board something regarding their position on the matter.
The family did not come forward in the 30-day period. After voting to dissolve the position when it expires in 2020, the board voted favorably to give Dave Plewes, the township’s zoning administrator, the job.
The entire Bair v Rose Township lawsuit in U.S. District Court can be read on our website at myfenton.com.