In a 72-page ruling issued Tuesday, a federal district court stated the city of Danville must face trial over claims that high-ranking city officials retaliated against a supervisor for defending herself against allegations that she discriminated against another employee.

The lawsuit was filed in June 2021 by Lucinda Parson, who worked as the superintendent of recreation for the city until November 2020. City of Danville, Mayor Rickey Williams Jr., Human Resources Director Sandra Finch and Public Works Director Carl Carpenter are named as defendants.

According to the complaint, Parson was suspended and discharged after serving as a witness in a city investigation.

The lawsuit accused the defendants of unlawfully punishing Parson for defending herself against allegations made by another employee who accused Parson of discriminatory mistreatment.

The city’s investigation concluded the employee’s complaint against Parson was unfounded, according to the lawsuit.

The city also claimed the superintendent of recreation position was eliminated for budgetary and COVID-related reasons.

Last year, the city of Danville filed a motion for summary judgment seeking to dismiss the case by arguing there was insufficient evidence to support any of Parson’s claims.

United States District Court Judge Colin S. Bruce on Tuesday partially denied the city’s motion. He stated that, based on evidence presented, jurors could find that city officials retaliated against Parson by suspending her without pay for engaging in protected activity in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and the Illinois Human Rights Act.

The ruling also stated the evidence was not strong enough to sustain claims that Parson was discharged for unlawful reasons. Jurors will consider the evidence and decide whether the city violated the law by suspending Parson.

The case is set for a telephone status conference at 1:15 p.m. on April 21 to set final pretrial and jury trial dates.

The lawsuit was filed in the United States District Court for the Central District of Illinois in Urbana. Parson is represented by Jeffrey Kulwin of Kulwin, Masciopinto & Kulwin, LLP in Chicago.

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