Settlement reached between city of Alpharetta and former employee claiming wrongful termination

by: Mike Petchenik Updated:


ALPHARETTA, Ga. - Court documents obtained by Channel 2 Action News show the city of Alpharetta has settled a lawsuit with a former employee who claimed wrongful termination because of a disability.

According to documents obtained by Channel 2's Mike Petchenik, Alpharetta agreed to pay Michael "Matt" Green and his attorneys $70,000 rather than to take the case to trial. City officials told Petchenik the money was paid from an insurance policy.

Green sued the city in 2012 under the Americans with Disabilities Act, claiming the city let him go because he couldn't perform his job duties because of a diagnosis of fibromyalgia, a nervous system disorder.

According to the lawsuit, Green approached his supervisors to ask for a change in position after he learned his workload would be doubling, and he was initially told he could move to a lower paying position within the city.

But, according to the lawsuit, city officials asked Green to have his physician answer a series of questions about his disability so that the city could better understand why he needed the accommodation "for his safety and the safety of any crew members," the suit said.

However, instead of allowing Green to move to the new position, the lawsuit alleged he was let go and told the reason for his termination was changed from "medical release" to "poor work performance."

In its response to the complaint, the city denied any wrongdoing.

"Any adverse action taken against the Plaintiff was done so in good faith without malice or reckless indifference to Plaintiff's protected rights," attorneys wrote on behalf of the city.

They contend the decision to let Green go was "required by business necessity."

In the settlement agreement, the city does not admit liability.

Petchenik reached out to the city and to Green for comment, but both are bound to silence because of a confidentiality clause of the settlement agreement.

Channel 2 Action News showed the lawsuit and settlement agreement to veteran labor and employment attorney Tremain Mattress, who has no affiliation with the case. Mattress said, based on what he sees, the complaint had merit.

"More than likely that's why the city of Alpharetta decided to resolve this case in a settlement agreement," said Mattress. "It appears from the complaint that they were unwilling to accommodate his disability."

Mattress said in his experience employers sued in such cases often settle.

"The benefit is you don't have to have a protracted litigation period," he said. "You don't have to go through a year or two years of a lawsuit."

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