MONROE — Officials with the city of Monroe are remaining tight-lipped after a former city employee filed a lawsuit claiming that his political views cost him his job.
Leonard Tims, who worked as the supervisor of beautification, said in his lawsuit that he was fired because he supported a candidate who was running against Mayor James Mayo. In the complaint, he said he campaigned for Mayo's opponent.
Tims filed the complaint with the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana in December. He is taking legal action against the city of Monroe, as well as Mayo, for what he said is a lack of support for his rights under the First Amendment.
Although it has been nearly two months since Tims's filing, city officials have remained private about details of the case. Monroe City Attorney Nancy Summersgill confirmed that Tims is taking legal action, but she added that the city cannot comment about lawsuits that are pending.
“The bottom line is we just don’t speak about pending lawsuits,” she told the Louisiana Record. “But Mr. Tims did file a lawsuit against us.”
She did not add detail on the status of the lawsuit or the city’s response.
Kevin R. Mason-Smith, an attorney with Robein of Robein, Urann, Spencer, Picard & Cangemi APLC who is representing Tims, also spoke with the Louisiana Record but wouldn't give much detail about the current status of the lawsuit.
“Tims filed a lawsuit, and the city answered,” Mason-Smith said.
Louis L. Robein, who is also on Tims’s legal team, was unavailable for a comment.
Tims states in his lawsuit that he was terminated in May 2015 after he helped another city employee who worked for sanitation, the Louisiana Record reported previously.
According to the complaint, the sanitation worker was in an accident. Tims was in the process of taking the worker to a local hospital so the employee could undergo a drug test that is routine for employees involved in accidents. The worker instead resigned from his job with the city. Tims took him home instead of to the hospital to receive treatment.
Tims was subsequently let go. According to the complaint, he was said to have been “insubordinate” when he allegedly broke a rule in the employee handbook by refraining from taking the worker to the hospital. Tims blames the city for being terminated and claims it was because of his connection with AFSCME Local 2388, which was also a major supporter for the candidate running against Mayo.
The amount he is suing far has not been released to the public. But according to the complaint, Tims believes he should be compensated after he said he suffered from inconvenience, mental anguish and losing his income, along with benefits and other potential business opportunities. He wants to go to trial on the case and allow a jury and judge to rule on whether he should be compensated with all general and equitable relief when it comes to the alleged wrongful termination.