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Bridgeport's ex-labor director sues city for wrongful termination

Jerry Dougherty
Wikimedia Commons

Andre Forde, Bridgeport’s former labor relations director, is suing the city for being fired in August without proper notification beforehand, violating the city’s charter.

Forde began working for the city to transition into labor relations in May. By June 2, he was then hired to replace Eric Amado to oversee the city’s civil service department.

Janene Hawkins, the city’s chief administrative officer, summoned Forde to a meeting in August where she told him that he “is not working out,” but would be open to extending health benefits.

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As a member of the civil service, Forde could only be fired if there was an affirmative vote by the Civil Service Commission, the personnel director, and head of labor relations.

Forde claims that Hawkins violated the city’s charter by circumventing this process. He also blames Amado for misrepresenting his employment status by stating the position was “at-will," which also violates the civil service provision of the city charter, according to the lawsuit.

“In response to Hawkins' statement, the plaintiff, clearly recognizing that he was being terminated, asserted that Hawkins' decision did not reflect an in-depth, objective review of his suitability for the Director of Labor Relations position,” the lawsuit said. “Especially since Hawkins' decision to discharge him was reached in less than 60 days.”

Forde is asking a Superior Court judge to order the city to reinstate him with back pay, benefits, and unspecified punitive damages. He has a court date scheduled for Nov. 4.

This lawsuit follows Bridgeport accused twice in the past two years for violating its civil service rules in hiring and firing actions.

Eric Warner is a news fellow at WSHU.