Lawyers representing former Ferndale City Administrator Greg Young say they sent a certified letter to Ferndale City Hall this month but it was never signed for. After 2 weeks of waiting for the delivery receipt they sent an email version of the same letter including Young’s most recent employment contract to all Ferndale City Councilmembers (see below).
According to the letter from Lisa Keeler of the law firm Carmichael Clark PS, obtained by My Ferndale News, “Because the Mayor acted in terminating Greg under the contract, Greg is entitled to the requisite severance pay.”
It was announced via a press release from city staff on October 19, 2018 that Mayor Jon Mutchler would not be renewing Young’s contract, allowing it to expire on December 31st, 2018, effectively ending his employment with the city on that date.
Keeler’s letter focused on language from Young’s employment contract. It detailed what would happen in the event of termination by the mayor including salary compensation of 1 month for every year worked to a maximum of 6 months.
According to the letter, Young was paid the value of his unused accumulated vacation days and 25% of his unused accumulated sick days as per the contract. But Keeler said in her letter he is entitled to severance pay including salary and additional benefits given his “longevity.”
About the same time Young received his notice, it was discovered some city employees were accumulating large amounts of vacation time, Young and 2 others had large balances. As a result, early “cash outs” were taken by the 2 staff to reduce the city’s contingent liability and employment contracts were changed to reduce the amount that can be accumulated in the future. Young’s balance was paid out at the end of his contract as Keeler mentioned.
Employee contracts were also changed at that time, Keeler says in her letter, “to say the Mayor can choose to not renew the contracts with 60 days’ notice and without that notice severance pay is limited to two (2) months’ salary and other benefits.”
Keeler said age and health discrimination claims were also being considered noting Mutchler’s decision of “terminating Greg and replacing him with a much younger City Administrator.”
Current City Administrator Jori Burnett said by phone he was unable to comment on the letter and Young’s request since the matter had been turned over to the city’s attorney.
Young was hired by then Mayor Jerry Landcastle in 2004. According to city staff, Young’s salary for 2018 was $153,778.
Young’s involuntary departure caught many by surprise as he was expected to retire at the end of this year. According to Young, he and Mutchler disagreed on department heads’ compensation for 2019 and, after Young said the City Council should decide, Young was handed a notice from Mutchler notifying him his contract would not be renewed after the end of 2018. Young told councilmembers and city staff at a public meeting later, “I had the temerity to say that if he and I couldn’t come to terms I was going to bring my case to you. That’s what sealed the deal.”
Below is the PDF version of the letter and Young’s employment contract as sent to City Councilmembers via email.