UPDATE: Dismissal hearing for city councilmember’s discrimination lawsuit moved to April 30

City moves to dismiss Rochester councilmember’s discrimination suit

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(ABC 6 News) – Update: A dismissal hearing in Councilmember Molly Dennis’ civil suit against the City of Rochester, Mayor Kim Norton, and Councilmember Patrick Keane has been rescheduled for April 30.

On Feb. 16, the attorney representing the city, mayor, and councilmember Keane filed a motion to dismiss Dennis’ suit, arguing that Dennis’ censure was based on “specific disruptive conduct unrelated to Dennis’s disability” of ADHD.

The documents also pointed out that Dennis is an elected official–not a city employee — and thus employment laws do not apply to her.

Dennis filed an amended complaint March 7, further claiming that the City of Rochester treats council members as employees by paying them similar wages to non-elected staff, sharing benefits and Human Resources, and completing similar duties.

The defendants’ attorney moved to dismiss the amended complaint as well.

That dismissal hearing is scheduled for 10 a.m. April 30, in the U.S. District Court in St. Paul.

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(ABC 6 News) – The attorney representing the City of Rochester, Mayor Kim Norton, and Councilmember Patrick Keane filed nearly a hundred pages in support of dismissing Councilmember Molly Dennis’ civil suit Friday, Feb. 16.

A hearing on the motion is scheduled for April 3.

Molly Dennis, the Ward 6 representative, claims that Rochester staff violated the Americans with Disabilities Act and retaliated against her for opposing her own discrimination.

Dennis has ADHD, and claimed the city had censured and retaliated against her for displaying symptoms of the condition, involving a short attention span and difficulty with linear processing.

RELATED: Councilmember Dennis suit against city, mayor scheduled for September – ABC 6 News – kaaltv.com

On Feb. 13, the city moved the suit to federal court.

RELATED: Rochester councilmember’s lawsuit moves to federal court – ABC 6 News – kaaltv.com

According to the documents filed on behalf of the city, the defendants claim the deterioration of Dennis’ relationships with other city officials, culminating in a censure against Dennis, was related to “specific disruptive conduct unrelated to Dennis’s disability.”

The documents also point out that Dennis is an elected official–not a city employee — and thus employment laws do not apply to her.

Dennis’ civil complaint first stated that Dennis was functionally a City of Rochester employee, not an elected official, based entirely on the way she was treated by staff.

The ADA protects federal and state employees from discrimination on the basis of their disabilities, and also requires that city and state organizations provide reasonable accommodations for those hoping to take part in public programming.

The motion to dismiss states that “because Dennis is not a City employee, she has no claim against the City under any laws that prohibit workplace discrimination.”
“Dennis attempts to evade this fatal flaw by alleging that Defendants ‘treated
her as an employee and not as an elected public official,'” the motion continues. “There is no authority for this interpretation of the law and the Court should not credit it.”

Further arguments in the motion include assertions that Dennis incorrectly classified Norton and Keane as her employers, that she cited a Minnesota statute that was repealed in 1967, and that the behaviors for which she was censured are not among those she has listed as symptoms of ADHD.