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Fired engineer files lawsuit against Hernando County Commission, former administrator

BROOKSVILLE — Even as Hernando County commissioners were ecstatic that a legal settlement finally had been reached in the Hernando Beach Channel dredge project this week, the other shoe was about to drop.

On Monday, the county engineer who was fired in January 2010, in large part due to his role in the botched project, filed a lawsuit alleging wrongful termination and age discrimination against the County Commission and former County Administrator David Hamilton.

The six-page complaint alleges that Charles Mixson, who had worked for more than 20 years with the county, was fired by Hamilton without the permission of the County Commission.

It also alleges that by firing Mixson, the county breached an "implied employment contract" with him, violated his "property interest in employment" and his civil rights, and that each of those offenses damaged Mixson.

He also accuses Hamilton of intentional age discrimination. Mixson was 60 when his employment was terminated.

In the complaint, Mixson claims that, "prior to terminating the plaintiff, the administrator made public and private statements that he planned on getting rid of all county managers over 55 years of age."

Mixson notes that he "was one of numerous county managers who were terminated or suffered other adverse personnel actions at the hand of the administrator as part of a plan or pattern of prohibited discriminatory practices."

Hamilton declined to comment Wednesday, saying that "once I receive the proper notification, I will be in touch with the county attorney's office."

Jon Jouben, deputy county attorney, declined to comment.

Hamilton disciplined Mixson before the firing. In August 2008, Hamilton suspended and reprimanded him for problems with several county projects, including the dredge. But the problems continued.

Mixson wrote a lengthy memo defending his actions, but Hamilton fired him the next day. In July 2010, Mixson filed an age-discrimination complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Later that month, county commissioners spent more than an hour listening to Mixson's attorney, Bruce Snow, talk up his client's years of accomplishments in a name-clearing hearing.

Fired engineer files lawsuit against Hernando County Commission, former administrator 01/15/14 [Last modified: Wednesday, January 15, 2014 9:18pm]
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