Former Davenport Fire Chief Lynn Washburn has responded through her attorney to the city of Davenport’s reasons why she was released from her position July 27, after six years on the job.
The city released a position statement Tuesday in response to Washburn’s complaint, to the Iowa Civil Rights Commission, filed Feb. 8, in which she alleges to be a victim of harassment, sexual harassment and termination with age and gender believed to be factors.
The city denied Washburn's allegations, stating her tenure was plagued by poor decisions and judgment and her actions established she was unsuitable or unfit for continued employment.
“The City of Davenport released its materials submitted in response to the investigative inquiry of the Iowa Civil Rights Commission, a document that would not ordinarily be treated as a public document,” Washburn’s attorney, Michael Carroll of West Des Moines, said Wednesday in an email.
“The Commission typically does not share with the parties to this kind of investigation the information submitted by the opposing party in support of their claims or defenses,” Carroll said.
“Chief Washburn is glad to have the benefit of seeing, for the very first time, all of the purported reasons the City of Davenport terminated her contract — reasons the City refused to share with her until posting them on its website many months after terminating her contract,” he said. “It should come as no surprise that the City’s story is not consistent with the Chief’s experience but she will not litigate it in the manner the City is choosing to pursue.
“The Chief’s claims and the City’s defenses will surely receive a full public airing at the appropriate time and a jury made up of citizens of Scott County ought to get to make the decision about whether the city’s story adds up,” Carroll said. “The Chief is confident that ultimately she will prevail.”
In her complaint, Washburn alleges City Administrator Corri Spiegel consistently ignored or subjected her to the silent treatment and diminished her in front of her peers and elected officials; discussed her job performance with her subordinates; discussed department concerns with her male subordinates; assigned her job duties to others, including Spiegel’s assistant who is 30 years younger than Washburn; and made false accusations against her.
“I had a clean personnel file with no concerns or discipline noted during my 5+ years of employment," Washburn wrote in the complaint.
Some of the work issues cited by the city were her “misplaced prioritization” of department needs, her inability to work with the Davenport Association of Professional Firefighters Local 17, and excessive travel and time away from duties.
The city also claimed in the statement that Washburn misused her position and police department resources to investigate a claim of sexual harassment that happened in late December 2016.
The city denied that Washburn’s age or gender, nor the sexual harassment allegation, contributed to her termination.
Spiegel wrote in a memorandum that accompanied the statement that an story about Washburn's civil rights complaint had been printed in the Quad-City Times on Feb. 19 before the city received it.
Washburn was terminated by Spiegel on July 27, 2017, three days after being placed on administrative leave. She appealed to the city Civil Service Commission on the grounds she was entitled to a job in the department commensurate with her civil service status. The commission ruled in her favor, a decision the city appealed to Scott County District Court. That case is pending.
When asked for a status update on Washburn’s complaint Wednesday, ICRC executive director Kristin Johnson said the commission is prohibited under Iowa law from confirming or denying the existence of a complaint unless “public charges” have been filed.