Former public works director awarded $247,500
Former public works director awarded $247,500 on discrimination charges
Mary Beth Bellm, the city of Carlinville’s former director of public works, has been awarded $247,500 following a settlement agreement reached with the city of Carlinville and its insurer, Charter Oak Fire Insurance Company. The settlement was announced at an Oct. 7 City Council meeting.
Bellm filed a charge of discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) on Aug. 14, 2013. The charge alleges discrimination based on both retaliation and sex for the discrimination Bellm alleged took place between May 1, 2005, until October 25, 2012.
Bellm listed eight points within her charge:
“Starting in or around May 1, 2005, I noticed pay discrepancies between myself and male counterparts. I was doing the Zoning Administrator job and wasn’t getting paid any extra for my work, while other male counterparts who did extra work were paid for their extra duties. I complained about this and nothing was done until they hired a Zoning Administrator.
“Starting with Mayor Robert Schwab, I was told that the males I worked with were unhappy that a woman was making more money than the Chief of Police and that I would not receive raises or higher raises until his salary was commensurate with mine. I complained about this, but nothing was done.
“In or around 2011 one of my subordinates, Joe Boatman, told an Alderman, Jon Koster, that he did not want to work with me because I was a woman and Koster came to me and told me to resign. I complained and Respondent held a sensitivity training that involved Koster openly making fun of the whole process and retaliating against me for my complaints. Nothing was done to stop him from this.
“In addition, in retaliation for my complaints, my job duties were increased and my subordinates stopped coming to me in any way. They began to go to others for direction.
“In 2012 a subordinate notified me that Boatman had told him and others numerous times that he would either screw me or get me fired – that he would ‘screw’ me one way or another.
“The Mayor began to write me up for false reasons in order to populate my file.
“On October 25, 2012, I was terminated by the mayor with no vote by the council in an improper fashion. The reasons given were false.
“Since that time, Respondent has hired a large male to do half the job I was doing and who is not as qualified as me and paying him substantially more that I was making,” stated Bellm.
The insurance company settled the matter on the city’s behalf, said Carlinville alderman Joe Direso. “The award amount was negotiated during the mediation process,” Direso said. “Now that the suit is settled, we can devote more time to city issues like our water source problems.” Mayor Deanna Demuzio, Alderman David Steiner and a representative were involved in the mediation.
Direso explained that after a $10,000 deductible, the city’s insurance company will cover the remainder of the settlement. “This is something we had to take care of,” Demuzio said, noting that the incident in question didn’t happen during her time as mayor.
Bellm, reached by phone Tuesday afternoon, declined to comment on the situation until after speaking with her attorney.
The release signed by Bellm stated, “It is understood and agreed that this settlement is in compromise of a doubtful and disputed claim, and the payment made by Charter Oak Fire Insurance Company to Mary Beth Bellm is not to be construed as an admission of liability on the part of the releasees, and that the releasees deny liability herein. It is further understood and agreed that the payment made by the city of Carlinville will extinguish all liability of the persons or entities that might or could be liable based on the incident alleged in Mary Beth Bellm’s charge of discrimination.”
Former or existing city officials or employees listed in the two-page settlement release were Robert “Bob” Schwab, John Koster, Joseph Boatman and Beth Toon. Schwab previously served as mayor. Koster was an alderman who lost a re-election bid when he finished second in a three-way Democratic primary in Ward 1. Boatman is still employed, serving as the city’s foreman of its street department. Toon was the city’s former zoning administrator and economic development coordinator.
“You can’t believe everything somebody says or writes,” Boatman said, adding in this case he thinks “there wasn’t a chance for the truth to be told.”
Toon admitted it was a surprise to see her name on the release. “It was a total surprise to me to see my name listed there, since I was not named in the complaint that Mary Beth filed with the EEOC,” Toon said. “I don’t know who made the decision to add my name to the release document, but I will speak to my attorney concerning the situation.”
Schwab was not contacted by the existing administration before the settlement was reached. His only involvement was speaking to an attorney for the city’s insurance company this January.
“I don’t know the reason for their decision,” Schwab said. “I question the validity of almost all the alleged accusations.”
Koster, reached by phone early Wednesday morning, declined to comment.
By Daniel Winningham