City of Sherman pays more than $400,000 in lawsuit settlements

SHERMAN, Tex. (KXII) -- The city of Sherman has paid out hundreds of thousands of dollars to avoid going to court with three former employees and one current employee.

And those employees all collected even more from the city's insurance company.

Three of the four who filed suit said they were discriminated against because of their age, and the other because of his race.

"We certainly defended ourselves vigorously," said Sherman City Attorney Brandon Shelby.

Four employment related lawsuits that were filed against the City of Sherman in 2017 were settled last year at a total cost of almost $900,000, according to documents obtained by News 12.

Shelby said more than $400,000 came from taxpayer money, the rest covered by the city's insurer.

"We take all lawsuits seriously, but especially the ones involving our employees," Shelby said.

Former Human Resources Director Wayne Blackwell got $30,000 from the suit that claimed he was demoted due to his age.

Former Assistant Public Works Director Johnathan Kirksey got about $112,000 for claims that he was demoted because of his race.

Former Police Chief Otis Henry got $600,000 claiming he was forced to retire because of his age.

Former Assistant Police Chief Stephen Dean got over $130,000 for claims of age discrimination.

"Our employees are important to us and we want to treat them right," Shelby said. "Settlement was more attractive than protracted litigation, and I think everyone's just happy to move forward."

In each case, the employees' attorneys took large portions of each settlement.

"We're glad that these lawsuits are behind us," Shelby said.

The money paid out by the city comes from the general fund.