City of Aspen officials put clamps on inter-office romance, lawsuit says
ASPEN, Colorado – A former city of Aspen employee filed a complaint Tuesday alleging that he was fired because he had an intimate relationship with another city worker.
Marble resident John Hines filed the suit in Pitkin County District Court. He’s seeking a jury trial and unspecified damages.
Hines’ suit claims that the city ordered him to cut off a relationship with another employee, although “other city employees were openly involved in inter-office personal relationships and were not similarly threatened.”
Hines, who worked in the city’s public works department from May 2006 until he was fired on Oct. 26, 2009, alleges that he was ordered to sign an agreement that included him agreeing to not hold hands with his co-worker in a city park during nonworking hours.
Hines contends the city then began a pattern of discrimination toward him and treated him differently than other employees.
“Since August 2008, the city and its employees harassed and discriminated against [Hines] and treated [Hines] in a disparately different fashion than other employees in various aspects, including but not limited to disciplinary measures, job reclassification, and raises. All these actions were taken against [Hines] to retaliate against him for refusing to end his relationship with another employee and for other reasons that are wholly unrelated to any legitimate government objective and without affording [Hines] his equal protection rights,” the suit says.
The city did not respond to a telephone message seeking comment.
Hines filed the suit without an attorney, though court records indicate the pleadings was prepared with the assistance of Glenwood Springs attorney Anna S. Itenberg.
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