City settles lawsuits

Scott Foster

A former female public works department employee who filed a federal lawsuit against the city in 2015, alleging wrongful termination and sexual harassment, will receive $120,000 from the city’s insurance carrier, according to a settlement agreement approved Aug. 14 by the city’s Board of Mayor and Aldermen.

Mylene Bond, 45, was hired by the city in May of 2013 as an equipment operator in the public works department. Within a year of her being hired, two lawsuits were filed in circuit court by public works department employees who alleged that Bond was unqualified for the position and posed a safety hazard to her fellow employees. It was also alleged that Bond had a romantic relationship with then-Public Works Director Jerry Horton and that Horton retaliated against employees who spoke out against Bond. The city settled those lawsuits in 2014.

That settlement came after the Tennessee Occupational Safety and Health Administration (TOSHA) investigated a complaint brought by one of the employees in early 2014. After interviewing more than a dozen public works department employees, the organization reported to then-Mayor Scott Foster that, in all likelihood, the employee was fired for reporting a safety violation.

Following the TOSHA investigation, Bond and Horton were both fired by the city in July of 2014.

Bond filed her lawsuit Oct. 13, 2015, alleging she had been a victim of workplace discrimination and sexual harassment by several city employees, including Foster. 

Horton, 52, filed his lawsuit in U.S. District Court on Oct. 9, 2015, alleging he was fired for filing a complaint with the EEOC on behalf of Bond and another female public works department employee. In the lawsuit, Horton said that he witnessed several incidents in which the female employees were either sexually harassed and/or discriminated against.

Both Horton and Bond hired Nashville attorney David Cooper and Hendersonville attorney’s Melody Black and Terry Frizzell to represent them. A Hendersonville police officer for more than 30 years, Frizzell served as the city’s Chief of Police under Foster from 2007-2010.

According to court documents, all parties reached a settlement agreement in May and the agreement became final on Aug. 14. During a BOMA meeting that night, city leaders entered into an executive session with City Attorney John Bradley. They voted to approve the agreement a short time later during the BOMA meeting.

The Hendersonville Standard obtained the settlement agreement through an Open Records request. According to the agreement, Bond will receive $120,000 “in full settlement of her claims against the city” within 10 days of the date of the agreement. The city’s insurance carrier is responsible for making the payment. The attorneys for Bond and Horton are responsible for paying the cost of a mediator, according to the agreement. Each party is responsible for paying its own court costs and fees.

Also as part of the agreement, the city will accept Horton’s letter of resignation dated July 2, 2014 and keep a copy in his personnel file. If asked for a reference or other information about Horton or Bond’s employment status, the city is to only provide their dates of employment.

If asked about the status of the lawsuits, the parties shall state that the lawsuits have been dismissed, according to the agreement.

“The parties deny that they are liable to each other for any reason or in any amount,” it states.

Bond and Horton, who was hired as city engineer in 2001 before being promoted to public works director in 2005, married in 2016.

Recommended for you