City of Holland Greenhouse Manager's Wrongful Discharge Suit

<h1 class="headline" style="overflow-wrap: break-word;"><a id="insertion_125396" class="insertion link" href="http://www.hollandsentinel.com/news/20180220/holland-denies-wrongful-termination-of-greenhouse-manager" target="_blank" data-insertion-id="125396">Holland denies wrongful termination of greenhouse manager</a></h1>
<p><span class="byline-item">By Sydney.Smith / @hollandsentinel.com (616) 546-4219 </span></p>
<div class="article-meta">
<div class="inner">
<div class="article-meta-main"><span class="article-meta-date">Posted at 10:00 AM</span></div>
<div class="article-meta-main"> </div>
</div>
</div>
<p>HOLLAND — The city of Holland has denied allegations that it fired its former greenhouse manager because she raised concerns about the safety of the greenhouse.</p>
<p>In a Wednesday, Feb. 14, response to a <a href="http://www.hollandsentinel.com/news/20180124/former-employee-alleges-holland-fired-her-for-raising-safety-concerns" target="_blank">lawsuit filed Jan. 3 in Ottawa County Circuit Court</a>, Peter Peterson, attorney for law firm Miller Johnson, wrote the city denied all allegations that Shelly DeVries was terminated in December for reporting building conditions that “threatened the safety of herself and other workers at her workplace to a public body.”</p>
<p>DeVries is seeking more than $25,000 in damages, lost wages and fringe benefits, as well as a court order for the city to cooperate with the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration. The city requested Feb. 14 that the court dismiss DeVries' complaint and enter judgment in favor of the city.</p>
<p>The city denied that criticism of DeVries' work first began after she complained about the safety of the greenhouse. It denied terminating her because she reported conditions that threaten public safety; that the city knew or should have known the greenhouse would not pass a MIOSHA inspection and that DeVries repeatedly complained about unsafe conditions.</p>
<p>The city denied that criticism of DeVries' work first began after she complained about the safety of the greenhouse. It denied terminating her because she reported conditions that threaten public safety; that the city knew or should have known the greenhouse would not pass a MIOSHA inspection and that DeVries repeatedly complained about unsafe conditions.</p>
<p>In the city's response, it stated it lacked knowledge or sufficient information to legitimize DeVries' claims that glass fell from the ceiling of the greenhouse or that asbestos was hanging loose from the basement ceiling.</p>
<p>The greenhouse is located at Central Avenue and 20th Street and is more than 100 years old.</p>
<p>DeVries has also alleged she requested an inspector look at the building to make sure it complied with the Michigan Department of Occupational Safety and Health Administration standards. She said a Department of Public Works employee walked through the building, but did not inspect all areas.</p>
<p>The city responded, admitting that Human Resources Director Jennifer Orme arranged and conducted a visit to the greenhouse by herself and a safety specialist for the Holland Board of Public Works, which took place in October. The response states they “walked through most of the greenhouse with DeVries.”</p>
<p>Concerned with the safety of the greenhouse, DeVries emailed members of Holland City Council after an October study session via her personal email, writing that the greenhouse was not adequate for the city's needs, had no heat due to a boiler that the city refused to repair, and that glass tiles were slipping from the ceiling.</p>
<p>The greenhouse has been a topic of much discussion at city council, as a deal made in 2015 to transfer ownership of the building to Evergreen Commons is in question after Evergreen requested the city de-list the property as a historic landmark. The city has plans to build a new growhouse, but this is on hold as well. Both will be discussed as Holland works through its budget for fiscal 2019. In a <a href="https://cityofholland.civicweb.net/document/52793/Attachment%20-%20Report%204%20-%20Evergreen%20-%20Letter%20to%20City.pdf?handle=5D1D151C88E341DFBC284DAEAB2B8703" target="_blank">letter</a> from Evergreen Commons asking the city to de-list, Evergreen wrote that there has been little effort to preserve and maintain the greenhouse to be in compliance with guidelines for historic landmarks, and that it is “near total disrepair.”</p>
<p>Four days after this, on Nov. 1, she was placed on administrative leave. The city states DeVries was placed on leave pending an investigation by means of a written memorandum from Orme.</p>
<p>On Nov. 15, she received a letter from Orme stating she “exhibited poor planning with important community events, failed to remain flexible, made negative comments about her supervisor and director and damaged the morale of seasonal staff,” among other issues.</p>
<p>The city was considering terminating DeVries at that time but requested a written rebuttal of its claims. She admitted to using her personal email to contact council members, and spoke to the other claims made by the city.</p>
<p>On Dec. 4, she was terminated via a letter from Parks and Recreation Director Andy Kenyon, that stated the city disagrees with DeVries' legal claims in her letter and characterization of the facts and would be terminating her immediately.</p>
<p>DeVries' attorney, Brad Glazier, will now send written questions to and request documents from the city. After responses, he said he will take depositions of the employees involved. He and city attorney Ron Vanderveen declined to comment on the litigation.</p>
<p> </p>
<p> </p>

Our Firm

Bos & Glazier is dedicated to supporting our clients in all cases, no matter the size. We are court room lawyers who use cutting-edge, sophisticated resources both in trial and behind the scenes.

What Our Clients Say

The following quotes from several of our clients will help you understand the commitment Bos & Glazier makes to each and every client it represents.