By Ryan Gueningsman
DELANO, MN A lawsuit has been filed against the City of Delano by former Public Works Director Ernie Eden.
The lawsuit was served to the city Feb. 14; the city has 20 days to respond to it.
The lawsuit is alleging violations of the Minnesota Human Rights Act: reprisal, the Minnesota Whistleblower Act, and failure to pay wages promptly.
“I hope that the parties involved and the public understand that I would not be investing the time, money, and energy if I didn’t really believe in what I am doing,” Eden said via text message to the Delano Herald Journal. “I just want the workplace bullying, harassment, gender bias, hostile work environment to stop (or) in other words, to change the status quo.”
The lawsuit centers around what Eden claims is gender discrimination and harassment in the workplace regarding several female seasonal employees of the public works department, along with alleged actions of another member of the public works department and the city administrator.
“These types of behaviors have no place in the City of Delano or anywhere else as far as that’s concerned,” Eden said. “It has to stop and I will continue to do everything in my power to be part of the change. It’s illegal and, more than that, it’s just plain wrong and it has to stop.”
Eden was terminated from employment with the city Dec. 3 following a performance review. Prior to the termination, Eden had been placed on a leave of absence from the city with pay since Oct. 25.
“The City is aware that Mr. Eden has filed a complaint in state court,” said Delano City Administrator Phil Kern in a statement. “The City looks forward to having its day in court and show that Mr. Eden’s allegations of illegal or wrongful treatment are false.”
Julie Fleming-Wolfe of St. Paul is the city’s attorney handling the matter.
Eden began employment with the City of Delano Nov. 1, 2007, according to Kern.
Prior to his employment with the City of Delano, Eden was a construction inspector for a major engineering firm, according to a city council request for action from 2007. He was also the superintendent of public works with the City of Robbinsdale from May 1992 to April 2004, according to the City of Robbinsdale.
Eden is being represented by Adrianna Shannon of Shannon Law of Minnetonka.