Former City Administrator Who Was Seeking $11.9 Million Settles for $15,000 in Sexual Harassment Case
Former Zimmer-man city administrator, Gregory LaFond, and Sherburne County settled a sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit for $15,000. However, although LaFond is getting $15,000 from the county, in a cross-claim, LaFond must pay Deputy Michele Vlasak $12,000 to settle her claim against him. This is a long way from the $11.9 million LaFond was seeking.
In September 2007 LaFond filed suit against the county, former Sheriff Bruce Anderson, County Attorney Kathleen Heaney and Deputy Michele Vlasak, as well as other unnamed individuals.
In his lawsuit, LaFond accused the county of conspiring against him due to his work with the city of Zimmerman in negotiating the law enforcement contract between the city and county, as well as other duties with the sheriff’s department. LaFond claimed Anderson tarnished his reputation when he questioned the rising costs of the sheriff’s department in Zimmerman. LaFond also claimed Vlasak, whose duties were assigned to Zimmerman, conspired to assist in this retaliation by bringing a sexual harassment allegation against LaFond.
According to the Star News, Vlasak filed suit against LaFond, asserting a counterclaim that he had defamed her in claiming the harassment allegations were baseless and part of a conspiracy. In the end, the claims against all of the individual defendants were dismissed as part of the settlement. However, Anderson said, based on the estimates of another $60,000 to $100,000 it would have taken in defending the case, and the disruption of services to the public, just settling the case seemed appropriate.
“In our opinion resolving a complaint asking for a total of $11.9 million dollars in damages for a payment of $15,000 to Mr. LaFond, while at the same time Mr. LaFond has a payment made on his behalf of $12,000 to Deputy Vlasak, was not only reasonable, but in the interest of the public,” Anderson said.