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Council, police officer reach settlement

City Council members have accepted a settlement agreement with a former Lawton police officer, clearing a grievance and a damage claim the officer had filed against the City of Lawton.

Former Lawton Police Department Capt. Ronald Smith Jr. filed a tort claim against the city in December 2016, alleging he was wrongfully and in retaliation discharged from Lawton Police Department in July 2016. Smith also had filed a grievance over city action through the International Union of Police Associations, Local 24 (which represents the department's officers), on Aug. 11, 2016, after he was terminated on July 21, 2016.

Among other things, the settlement, which Smith signed June 7, restored him to department employment between July 21, 2016, and Jan. 1, 2017; after that date, his record states he resigned while being reduced in rank from captain to lieutenant. City of Lawton administrators have not said why Smith was terminated.

The provisions of the settlement agreement end all legal issues between Smith and the City of Lawton, including a grievance arbitration that had been scheduled to take place June 7. The hearing never started that morning and city officials indicated afterward a settlement had been reached.

The agreement releases everyone involved in the legal actions, to include Smith and all related actions on his behalf; the City of Lawton and all city employees; current and past council members; and those acting in the city's behalf. It also specifies release of any claims arising under the police union's collective bargaining agreement, the Fair Labor Standards Act, Federal Civil Rights Act, Equal Pay Act, Age Discrimination in Employment Act, Rehabilitation Act, Americans With Disabilities Act, Veterans Re-employment Rights Act and other options "which would be available to him pursuant to any claim which was, or could have been, alleged in the grievance and/or in any charge of discrimination, harassment, or retaliation, and/or any litigation regarding Smith's employment and separation from City employment."

The agreement also covers rights Smith may have under the Older Workers Benefit Protection Act, Worker Adjustment and Retraining Act, Family and Medical Leave Act, Occupational Health and Safety Act or any other claims that could arise out of "express or implied employment contracts, torts, workplace exposure, wrongful termination or other retaliation claims in connection with workers compensation or alleged 'whistleblower' statutes...."

It covers past, pending or threatened claims by Smith and Local 24, and both entities have stipulated that, with the exception of the tort claim and grievance, there are no outstanding civil complaints, claims, grievances or actions of any nature pending against the city as of June 7.

The Lawton Constitution

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