Fired Kalamazoo County legal professional settles federal lawsuit with former employer

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KALAMAZOO, MI – About a year after former Kalamazoo County’s attorney Beth White filed a complaint in federal court against her former employer, the case was settled this week.

The court documents did not indicate what amount, if any, was paid to settle the lawsuit. District Administrator Tracie Moored declined to provide the settlement documents.

“After extensive negotiations, the dispute has been resolved and the matter is closed,” said Moored.

MLive filed an application under the Freedom of Information Act for the documents.

Kalamazoo County commissioners unanimously voted to fire the county’s chief attorney during the board’s meeting on Wednesday, November 6th. At this point, the board gave no specific reason for White’s termination.

In response, White filed a federal lawsuit alleging violations of the Whistleblower Protection Act, unlawful dismissal, breach of contract, and violations of the Open Meetings Act. In addition to the county, former chairwoman Julie Rogers and county commissioner Stephanie Moore are specifically named in the lawsuit.

In response to the filing of the lawsuit, the county released a statement saying that White was offered a resignation agreement that was “more generous than the terms of their own labor agreement.”

The board of directors’ offer was rejected when White asked about vested benefits that the county said “simply exceeded the limits of the county’s retirement plan for an 18-month employee.”

As part of the lawsuit, White sought the overturning of the county board’s decision to fire her, reinstating her as a management consultant, and granting her all the allowances and benefits she should have received prior to the meeting at which board members voted to resign.

The lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan was dismissed on Monday, November 16, almost exactly one year after it was filed on November 13, 2019. Attorneys representing all parties signed off on Monday’s dismissal at no charge or legal fee for each party according to court records.

The attorney representing Kalamazoo County declined to comment when reached out by MLive Tuesday. White’s lawyer could not be reached.

White ran for Kent County’s Treasurer earlier this year. It won its Democratic primary in August, but later lost the November general election to Republican Senator Peter MacGregor.

The Kalamazoo County Board of Commissioners has not replaced White. Instead, the district hired a legal advisor last year.

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