Assistant Says Mayor Is Firing Her for Ending Relationship

Suspended employee fights dismissal
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 30, 2019 4:14 PM CST
Assistant Says Mayor Is Firing Her for Ending Relationship
Inglewood Mayor James T. Butts Jr. speaks at a news conference in 2017.   (AP Photo/Kelvin Kuo, File)

Melanie McDade-Dickens was "an exemplary employee," her lawyer says, with no marks on her record until she told her boss—the mayor—that she was ending their romantic relationship. That got her escorted out of Inglewood City Hall and suspended in July; in November she got a letter from the California city saying she'd be fired, her lawyer says. McDade-Dickens is fighting the termination from her $342,000-a-year job as the mayor's assistant, countering with allegations that Mayor James Butts Jr. stalked and harassed her after she broke things off, the Press Telegram reports. Using a garage door opener he kept after their relationship, Butts entered her home unannounced more than a dozen times, she says, and followed her, screamed at her, and threatened her. A city attorney denies the stalking, harassment, and retaliation allegations. The attorney and other Inglewood officials won't discuss whether Butts and McDade-Dickens were in a relationship.

McDade-Dickens is a witness in ongoing litigation involving a proposed basketball arena in Inglewood, and a motion filed by the city's law firm in that case referred to her possible violation of "important city policies" being behind her suspension, per the Los Angeles Times. The motion says the violations were connected to McDade-Dickens' purchase of a home. Lawyers in that case want to know if she and the mayor had a romantic relationship, saying it could affect their credibility as witnesses. McDade-Dickens' lawyer says the relationship began when she worked on Butts' first campaign for mayor in 2010 and ended in March 2018. In that time, she rose from assistant to senior assistant to the mayor, then to acting assistant city manager. (Read more wrongful termination stories.)

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