SPANISH FORT – The Spanish Fort City Council upheld the firing of the employee who had filed charges against Mayor Mike McMillan accusing him of slapping her in October.
The council voted 4-0 on Monday, July 6, to uphold the termination of Lyndsey Cooper. During the hearing, that lasted about 15 minutes, no one mentioned Cooper’s charges against McMillan.
Cooper was fired in May. She was accused of refusing to take temperatures of people coming to the door as part of coronavirus precautions at Spanish Fort City Hall, according to council statements.
City Councilman Bill Menas said employees have a duty to perform different and difficult tasks during the pandemic.
“In the end, we’re dealing with a difficult time. We all know with COVID-19, it’s a difficult environment and we are all asked to do things that are just uncomfortable,” Menas said.
Menas said Cooper refused to do the job that needed to be done.
“There was a pattern of ‘I’m not gonna and I don’t want to,’” Menas said. “Those were her statements. That’s not an ideal employee. I’m sorry.”
Cooper’s lawyer, Ed Smith, was in the audience, but did not address the council. He said after the hearing, that council’s action was expected.
“It was a done deal,” Smith said. “Nobody’s surprised by this one bit.”
Smith said Cooper was given a letter written by City Clerk Mary Lynn Williams on Oct. 22, the day after Baldwin County Sheriff’s Office investigators came to City Hall to question employees about Cooper’s claim that McMillan had slapped her. The letter stated that Williams said Cooper should be terminated for “untruthfulness.”
“To me and I would think anybody with a reasonable mind would conclude that she set out to terminate Lynsey Cooper the day after the Sheriff’s Office came out here to investigate the mayor slapping her and today is the culmination of that action on her part,” Smith said.
McMillan was not present at the hearing Monday. Citing a conflict of interest in the matter, he turned over the chair of the meeting to Mayor Pro Tem Mary Brabner and left the room before the proceedings began. Brabner, who also oversaw the earlier hearings on Cooper, abstained from the termination vote.
All four other council members voted to uphold the termination.
McMillan faces criminal charges of misdemeanor harassment in connection with the slapping incident. The case was scheduled for trial in Baldwin County District Court in December, but the hearing was postponed while the judge considered a request for city attorney David Conner to testify.
Smith said no new trial date has been set.