Arizona Worker Fired Because of Husband to Get Settlement

January 31, 2014

A Kingman, Ariz., employee fired because she is married to a motorcycle club member is getting a $50,000 settlement from the northwestern Arizona city.

Melissa Summerson was fired in December from her city job as a human resources technician because officials were concerned she might leak sensitive information to her husband’s club.

The settlement was disclosed in documents filed in Summerson’s federal court lawsuit against the city, the Kingman Daily Miner reported.

The suit accused the city of violating Summerson’s constitutional right to freedom of association.

Mayor Janet Wilson declined to discuss officials’ discussion of the lawsuit, but Summerson attorney David Kresin said his client feels vindicated.

“Because Melissa was such a good employee with an outstanding record, she quickly found other employment in the human resources field and worked hard to limit the economic harm that she suffered as a result of the city’s illegal conduct,” Kresin said.

Summerson was terminated in December 2012 after members of the city’s legal and law enforcement departments expressed concerns that Summerson might leak information such as employees’ home addresses.

But the lawyers who represented the city in the case didn’t provide any evidence that Summerson did, or planned to do, anything improper.

Her husband is a member of the Desert Road Riders Motorcycle Club, which was branded as an outlaw gang in a 2009 law enforcement report.

Summerson’s lawsuit said the club is a family club that participates and hosts charity events and that it does not knowingly allow convicted felons to join the club.

The lawsuit sought an unspecified amount of damages to compensate Summerson for distress, loss of income and other damages.

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