Home News City files answer to civil rights suit brought by female firefighter

City files answer to civil rights suit brought by female firefighter


Trish Bennett, Editor

CIRCLEVILLE – A female firefighter involved in a civil rights suit against the city in U.S. District Court is no longer employed by the Circleville Fire Department.

Despite recent reports, however, Amie L. Morningstar was not fired but left her position voluntarily after her personal leave ran out, according to Gary Kenworthy, city law director.

“By definition, she abandoned her job,” Kenworthy said. “She was scheduled for work on five different dates and never appeared. Under the city’s handbook, if you fail to show up for work for a certain period of time, it’s considered job abandonment. She was sent a letter from the city stating it was their understanding she decided to abandon her position, and they never received a response to that. Therefore, she voluntarily quit.”

Brian K. Duncan, Morningstar’s attorney, reportedly told the Associated Press his client was fired Feb. 5. Duncan did not return a call for comment on Friday.

Morningstar is seeking in excess of $75,000 for actual and punitive damages in the complaint that names the City of Circleville, the Circleville Fire Department and Chief Marc Zingarelli as defendants to charges of gender discrimination; intentional and/or negligent infliction of emotional stress; retaliation; equal pay violations; Ohio public policy tort; hostile work environment; and sexual harassment.

According to the U.S. District Court, the City of Circleville filed an answer to the complaint Feb. 12, and a pretrial conference with a magistrate is set for March 22.

Recent reports also indicate the federal judge was asked to dismiss the suit, but the U.S. District Court confirmed Friday an official motion to dismiss has not been filed in the case.

Kenworthy said he has not yet seen the answer that was filed in the suit, which is being handled by attorney Mike Valentine of Reminger Co. LPA in Columbus, but a request to dismiss is considered standard wording in answering a lawsuit and that is likely the request being reported.

Kenworthy confirmed in December that the allegations in the lawsuit are the same as those from an internal complaint Morningstar filed last year that led to Chief Zingarelli being placed on administrative leave June 21 for the duration of an investigation by a third-party investigative firm.

Zingarelli was reinstated about eight weeks later on Aug. 14, 2015, when Mayor Don McIlroy reported, “The results of the investigation did not substantiate disciplinary action against the chief.”

This article originally appeared on The Pickaway News Journal