The St. Paul City Council is scheduled to vote Wednesday on a $250,000 settlement with its soon-to-be-former human rights director, after she filed unspecified complaints against the city.
A proposed settlement agreement between the city and Jessica Kingston states that Kingston has “asserted claims against the city arising out of her employment” with the city, but with no details. In the agreement, Kingston also agrees to “seek withdrawal of any charges or complaints filed with the Minnesota Department of Human Rights and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to the fullest extent permitted by law.”
Neither side admits to wrongdoing in the agreement.
Kingston, who was hired in 2012 by then-Mayor Chris Coleman, has been on paid leave since Aug. 23 — the day she signed the settlement agreement. Kingston did not respond to a call seeking comment Friday.
According to terms of the agreement, if the City Council approves the settlement, Kingston will not try to get her old job back, at least through 2024. The city would continue paying her medical benefits and pension contributions through Oct. 31, the settlement states.
City Council President Amy Brendmoen on Friday confirmed that the council is expected to take up the agreement at its Sept. 5 meeting. She said she could provide no other information about what precipitated the settlement. Both Brendmoen and staff members in Mayor Melvin Carter’s office referred questions to the City Attorney’s Office.
In an e-mail to the Star Tribune, City Attorney Lyndsey Olson wrote that “the complete terms and specific reasons for the settlement agreement between the City and Ms. Kingston are articulated in the Settlement Agreement ... All other aspects of this matter are private data on individuals” under state law.
The agreement calls for the city to pay the $250,000 with three checks: One made payable to Kingston for $110,000, to be reported to the IRS on Form 1099; one made out to Kingston for $110,000, less withholdings, to be reported on Form W2, and one for $30,000 made out to Kingston’s attorneys.
Kingston came to work with St. Paul from a career in purchasing in the private sector. The director of Human Rights & Equal Economic Opportunity oversees a department that works to ensure city contracts comply with requirements for minority and women participation, as well as helping investigate complaints of discrimination and police misconduct.
She took the helm of a department that was created in 2009 to address a lag in the city’s hiring of minority contractors. Shortly before her hiring, a letter sent by the Professional Employees Association to the city said the department had been afflicted with high turnover and low morale.
Kingston was paid $69.30 per hour, city officials said, or about $144,000 a year.
Earlier this week, Carter announced that the city will form two community panels to help select a new human rights director and emergency management director. The panels will begin reviewing candidates for the jobs on Nov. 1. Officials said the goal is to appoint new directors in January 2019.