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Settlement Agreement of Laura Chancellor Lawsuit

The City of Ashland and the Ashland Parks and Recreation Commission have entered into an agreement to settle all claims included in the lawsuit brought by Laura Chancellor for alleged workplace harassment.

The agreement addresses all claims in the lawsuit and the parties acknowledge that it is not in any way an admission of wrongdoing or liability on the part of any party. The parties are entering into the agreement to avoid the expense and burden of further litigation. 

The settlement sum to be paid to Ms. Chancellor includes the following:
  • $70,000 to be paid by the City of Ashland for retroactive pay.  The City will also be responsible for its normal employment taxes and benefit expenses related to the retroactive pay
  • $630,000 to be paid by the City’s insurance carrier, City/County Insurance Services (CIS), for alleged emotional distress and attorney’s fees
The Defendants in the lawsuit also agreed to issue the following statement:
“Plaintiff Laura Chancellor has voluntarily dismissed the individual defendants:  Mark Trenton, Chris Ward, Jason Minica, Joseph Hyde, and Michael Black from this litigation prior to settlement.

The City of Ashland and the Ashland Parks and Recreation Commission (APRC) are committed to providing a work environment in which all people are treated with respect and dignity. The City and APRC strive to cultivate and maintain a workplace free of harassment, inclusive of all people, and reflective of the diversity of the Ashland Community.

The City and APRC are committed to creating a positive work environment for all employees and the community they serve.”

The City has taken steps over the last eighteen months to promote a healthy work environment across all its departments, including the Parks and Recreation Department, by:
  • Updating personnel policies to assure individual accountability by all staff members
  • Hiring new Human Resource management for the City and clarifying internal communications; and
  • Improving employee support practices, including initiating Diversity, Equity and Inclusion training
  • Conducting an organizational assessment in 2023-2024 to further define and develop its Diversity, Equity and Inclusion program
Parks and Recreation Department senior management transitioned this month with the appointment of Ms. Leslie Eldridge to be interim Director.  Also, the Ashland Parks and Recreation Commission has adopted, “Employ best management practices to strengthen relations between management, co-workers, City employees and community members,” as its top priority for 2023-2024.

Questions can be directed to Mayor Tonya Graham,, or City Manager Joseph L. Lessard,

Released August 28, 2023, 3:59 p.m. 

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