*Editor’s Note: Due to the early Christmas deadline of Monday afternoon, December 23, the West Side Journal was unable to have the latest information on the December 23 Port Allen City Council meeting.
During a special council meeting on Monday, Dec. 23, the Port Allen city council will again discuss former payroll clerk Robin Ackerman’s pending litigation against the city in executive session.
On Aug. 23, Ackerman abruptly quit under then-mayor Demetric “Deedy” Slaughter, after 18 and a half years of working for the city.
Ackerman said she was 16 months away from retirement, but that she quit because she believed Slaughter retaliated against her after she was subpoenaed to appear in court in July.
In July, Ackerman testified that since January, Slaughter had instructed her to dispense the mayor’s payroll at a higher rate – the rate of previous mayors, not the rate the council budgeted for the 2012-2013 fiscal year.
“The conditions of my employment deteriorated very rapidly,” Ackerman said.
Ackerman said in a statement immediately following her resignation that she worked under four mayors prior to Slaughter.
“Until now, I never had a problem working for any one of them,” she said.
On Sept. 10, Ackerman filed a “Petition for Monies Due” with the West Baton Rouge Parish Clerk of Court’s office.
Aug. 30 was the date of Ackerman’s final paycheck with the city, but Ackerman alleged in her petition that that paycheck did not include $7,026.85 owed her for 281.75 hours of accrued vacation time. Ackerman wrote a letter to Slaughter on Aug. 27 specifically asking for that amount.
CFO Audrey McCain said that on Sept. 12 (two days after the filing of the petition), Ackerman received an additional paycheck of $6,347.23 for 254.50 hours of accrued vacation time.
The petition states that according to the Louisiana Wage Payment Act, the city was required to pay Ackerman “all sums due under the terms of her employment on or before the August 30, 2013 [paycheck],” or no later than 15 days from Aug. 23, her date of resignation.
The Sept. 12 payment occurred after the time allowed by the Louisiana Wage Payment Act.
Oct. 30 was the original bench trial date for the litigation, but Judge Alvin Batiste Jr. continued the matter until Dec. 4. Then on Dec. 4, he continued the matter again until Jan. 6 at 9 a.m.
Ackerman and her attorney Seth Dornier said on Dec. 11 that they hope to reach a settlement with the city. For now, the terms of the proposed settlement remain confidential; however, Ackerman said that she would like her job back now that Slaughter is no longer mayor.
When the city council previously discussed the case in executive session on Dec. 11, city attorney Lance Joseph said the parties still have some work to do.
Joseph said the Dec. 11 executive session was merely discussion, but that if the council chooses to settle, the council will make that clear before the public in open meeting.
Dornier said that if the terms of Ackerman’s proposed settlement are not reached, he will file a federal civil rights lawsuit.
During the special meeting on Dec. 23, the council will also:
Vote to introduce a 2013-2014 budget, overdue since July 1.
Review and vote to accept the 2012-2013 audit report for the city of Port Allen and the Port Allen fire department.
Reconsider a new $33,000 vehicle for the fire chief that was budgeted at $30,000 in 2012-2013 but that Slaughter refused to sign payment for in April after the vehicle was already ready for pickup.