A former Spanish Fort municipal employee who alleged she was slapped by Mayor Mike McMillan has filed a civil lawsuit against the city for wrongful termination.
Lindsey Cooper, the city’s former magistrate, accused McMillan of slapping her during an argument in October 2019. The Baldwin County District Attorney’s Office filed a misdemeanor harassment charge against McMillan, but the mayor was acquitted in a bench trial after an appointed judge determined there was not enough evidence to convict.
Cooper is now accusing the city, McMillan and City Clerk Mary Williams of wrongful termination, according to a federal civil rights complaint filed Sept. 30. The complaint argues following the slapping incident on Oct. 1, 2019, the defendants violated Cooper’s First and Fourteenth Amendment rights.
According to the complaint, while McMillan and Cooper were attempting to solve an issue with the city’s website, the mayor attempted to swipe the desktop screen as if it were a touchscreen. Cooper alleges McMillan became angry when she laughed at him, telling her to “shut up” and slapping her.
Cooper filed charges 22 days later against the mayor, and McMillan was processed and bonded by the Baldwin County Sheriff’s Office. Cooper was later terminated by the city of Spanish Fort in June 2020 after she was removed from her duties as a magistrate. She then refused to accept responsibility as the city office’s temperature-taker assigned to screen those entering the building as a COVID-19 pandemic measure.
In the civil complaint, Cooper argues her termination was initiated Oct. 22, 2019, as retaliation for filing charges against the mayor. An initial memo of termination was allegedly drafted by Williams within hours of learning charges were filed against McMillan. The plaintiff is arguing this violates her right to free speech. During an appeal hearing in June 2020 for Cooper’s termination for refusing to accept new responsibilities, the complaint notes Williams “corrected” her testimony to recognize the Oct. 22, 2019, memo after it was shown to her.
Cooper is also arguing her Fourteenth Amendment rights were violated as she was not given due process during her demotion as a magistrate. She is also re-alleging a charge of battery for McMillan’s “offensive” physical contact against her, emotional distress and invasion of privacy.
Cooper, who is being represented by attorney Elizabeth Citrin of Daphne, is seeking compensatory and punitive damages from the city, McMillan and Williams, as well as court costs.
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