Minnesota County Declines Mediation with Former County Administrator
Monday, December, 15, 2014
Despite a State recommendation that the matter be handled via mediation, Winona County has refused to enter into negotiations with terminated County Administrator Duane Hebert over his claim that he was wrongfully terminated from his post with the county. The claim was filed with the state’s Department of Human Rights back in July 2014.
The county claims that Hebert failed to disclose a conflict of interest concerning his wife working for a solar energy company that Hebert sought to hire as a contractor. Hebert countered that his wife was a freelancer who worked briefly with the company for a few months in 2013. Hebert’s discrimination complaint claims the county is discriminating against him because of who he is married to.
After an initial investigation, the department recommended that the issue be brought before a mediator in an effort to find a mutually acceptable solution. Hebert agreed to enter into mediation as a last step prior to full litigation, but the county has announced it refuses to do so, thus ensuring the matter will end up in court. Citing the discussion of legal strategy during the meeting, the county declined to make any public statement about its decision.
At this stage either the Department of Human Rights or Hebert himself could file a lawsuit against the county over the matter. Meanwhile, the county is actively interviewing candidates to replace Hebert. It is unlikely that the county would be forced to re-hire Hebert even if he successfully sues.