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Maryland mayor defends against wrongful termination claims

A wrongful termination suit has been filed against Mayor John "Charlie" Dorman and Mayor and Council of Snow Hill, Maryland, after one man says he was fired from his position as Code Enforcement Officer for refusing to okay a building that had a collapsed roof. As a code enforcement officer, the man was responsible for ensuring that noncompliant buildings or those deemed unsafe were not issued certificates of occupancy, and the post also required that he report unsafe conditions.

According to the suit, the man was reportedly fired in October 2012, and he alleges that this was a result of not going along with the mayor's attempt to bring new business to the area outside of proper code enforcement. According to the court filings, a woman wanted to open a salon and dog daycare in a building on North Washington Street in Snow Hill. The former code enforcement officer reportedly informed the mayor that the building's roof was ready to collapse and had rotten roof rafters.

The man alleges that the mayor told him not to tell anyone else about the state of the building until he could get a "second opinion." Later on, the man claims he was contacted by the Deputy Fire Marshal who wanted to know about the building's condition prior to issuing the certificate of occupancy. The man alleges that when he told the Deputy Fire Marshal about the roof, he was terminated around a week later.

The official written notice of termination allegedly names insubordination as the reason. The man and his wife are seeking $75,000 in punitive damages and $75,000 in compensatory damages. However, if the defendants can show that the former employee's actions qualified as insubordination and were grounds for termination, it is possible that the ruling may be in their favor. For companies defending against allegations of wrongful termination, following company policy with regard to terminating employees and having proper documentation are key factors.

Source: The Dispatch, "$150K Wrongful Termination Suit Filed Against Snow Hill" No author given, May. 01, 2014

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