A-W-K-W-A-R-D librarians in the news
Further proof that Librarians are AWKWARD! Ha ha ha...I actually laughed outloud when I read this. I mean, I hope this lady gets help, because OBVIOUSLY, she needs it. But it still was slightly entertaining. I guess I should stop using puppets as "mediators," at my staff meetings!
PUBLISHED: Monday, June 16, 2008
Fired library director sues
Fraser staffers complained of her irrational behavior
By Christy Strawser
Macomb Daily Staff Writer
Former Fraser Library Director Sherry Schmidli filed a wrongful dismissal lawsuit in Macomb Circuit Court alleging she was fired for questioning the city's authority over the library.
The lawsuit claims Schmidli was also unlawfully fired for taking medical leave for a health condition that put her repeatedly in the emergency room. Schmidli is asking the court for unspecified damages over $25,000 for mental distress and lost wages.
"Defendants had a duty not to discriminate against (Schmidli) because of a disability or perceived disability," the lawsuit says.
Letters in Schmidli's personnel file that detail complaints by library staff tell a different story about her departure. Staff members said Schmidli spoke through a puppet at meetings, talked about her sex life, berated and harassed workers, asked employees to spy on each other, and moved furniture in an upstairs room in 2006 without her top, wearing only a bra.
"While she might be perfectly fine with her body, the rest of us don't particularly want to see it," one worker wrote to the city.
Schmidli was basically accused of acting irrational at work, something her attorney vehemently denies.
"Pictures of spiders drive her into a frenzy," one staffer complained.
An employee said Schmidli became angry when she called police about someone cruising pornography sites on the library computer because, she said, the patron "had every right to look at porn."
Another complained about an incident where Schmidli said she was ill and needed a ride to the hospital. She insisted on going to William Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak, the worker said.
On the way there, Schmidli allegedly urged her to drive faster and faster, honk the horn and veer around other motorists. Then, she turned to the driver, said she felt better, and wanted to go back.
Once at the library, she allegedly laughed at the stressed-out driver.
Beyond employees, city officials took issue with Schmidli allegedly using a city Visa card to make purchases for the library gift shop without authorization.
The finance director sent Schmidli a memo advising her to buy things from companies where the city has accounts, but Schmidli kept using the Visa and allegedly violated the city's policy of getting three bids on any expense over $500.
The lawsuit claims that when City Manager Jeff Bremer and Human Resources Director Pam Lavers met with Schmidli in January about the complaints, they "concluded the meeting by telling (Schmidli) that her behavior was 'bizarre and weird', and she was therefore required to attend counseling through the city's employee assistance program."
She refused treatment, saying in the lawsuit the allegations were "untrue, false, malicious and grossly out of context."
"They're not true, they're unverified and they were never investigated," said Schmidli's attorney, Francyne Stacey of Ann Arbor.
Lavers wrote in Schmidli's personnel file that when she was confronted, Schmidli responded by saying Bremer "is not her boss."
Schmidli allegedly asked for a week off work to consider her options, then asked for family leave, got a 30-day extension on the one-month leave, and was fired on her first day back, March 4.
Schmidli was so upset at the city's role in library staffing and budget issues that she hired a lawyer to look into whether the city was overreaching.
Attorney Laurie Kelly wrote a letter in February, while Schmidli was on leave, saying Fraser city ordinance is silent on many library issues, but higher law has plenty to say. The lawyer quoted a law that says, "(The Library Board) shall have the power to appoint a suitable librarian and necessary assistants ... and shall also have power to remove such appointees."
Schmidli did not get support from the Library Board, according to the lawsuit.
"The Library Board ... should have protested the termination and/or investigated the circumstances of it, but they failed to do this," the suit says.
Stacey asked City Council to reinstate Schmidli, which they unanimously denied. The mayor and all council members were included as defendants in the lawsuit, as were members of the Library Board.
Before the complaints, Schmidli won a glowing review from Bremer in 2006 for her "extensive professionalism." She was given a 2 percent raise in 2007 that boosted her pay to $53,040 a year, up from $52,000 when she was hired full-time in 2005.
Schmidli came to Fraser with 20 years experience. She was a library science instructor at Wayne State University, worked as a reference librarian at Macomb Community College and was head librarian in Clinton Township.