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City of LaFollette pays almost $800,000 to settle employee claims of wrongful termination

The City Council fired Daniel Foster and Jimmy Jeffries at a meeting in January 2021. Both threatened to sue, and the city settled.

LAFOLLETTE, Tenn. — In August, the LaFollette City Council fired two police officers based on an investigation and allegations that the officers had created a toxic work environment.

A lawyer for one of those officers, Sgt. Monty Miller, sent a letter to the city of LaFollette and asked for the city to "reverse" its intention to terminate Miller. The lawyer said Miller would "seek any and all potential remedies" if it doesn't. 

The August incident is not the first time the LaFollette City Council has terminated employees at its meetings. 

In January 2021, the City Council dismissed City Administrator James Jeffries and Daniel Foster, the animal control officer,  at the council's monthly meeting.

The two said they were retaliated against for "reporting wrongdoing to the Tennessee Comptroller" and filing charges of discrimination against Mayor Mike Stanfield.

RELATED: LaFollette police officer fired at city council meeting for creating 'toxic workplace' pushing to get job back

In settlements obtained by 10News, and not made public by the city of LaFollette, the city's liability carrier paid out $775,000 to settle the accusations. 

Daniel Foster received a $400,000 settlement on behalf of the city. At the time of his termination, Foster's personnel file shows he was making just over $40,000 per year. 

Jeffries, the former city administrator, received a $375,000 settlement from the city. His personnel file shows he earned around $60,000 per year. 

The settlement makes up about 7% of the city of LaFollette's annual revenue. Compared to Knoxville, that's equivalent to an almost $16 million settlement. 

10News reached out to ousted LaFollette Mayor Mike Stanfield to ask why the pair was fired. Stanfield said it was the City Council's decision, but "to be honest, they weren't doing their job." 

"That Black guy (Foster), he called me a racist," Stanfield said in a phone interview with 10News. "I grew up with Black people. I went to school with them; I played ball with them."

In two separate investigation reports, the Tennessee Comptroller said Stanfield abused the city of LaFollette's resources while he was mayor. 

A Campbell County grand jury indicted Stanfield for official misconduct and for retaliating against Jeffries for reporting misconduct to the Tennessee Comptroller. 

Those charges were later dropped. 

The Knox County Sheriff's Office confirmed Daniel Foster was hired on Aug. 15, 2022. 

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