In the lawsuit, Adkins claims that after the 2018 Middletown City Council election, a “blacklist” of older white men in leadership positions in the city and throughout the community was created and that he became “a target”.
Adkins began to receive interference in the performance of his duties. and when he pushed back, he was subjected to “hostility and reprisals”, according to the lawsuit.
He said there were “false allegations” about his performance as city manager.
Adkins worked for Middletown for 14 years as assistant city attorney, city attorney and director of community redevelopment before his appointment as city manager in June 2014.
Following a public outburst at a downtown cafe on October 2, 2019, the city council granted Adkins a one-day suspension without pay on October 24 and ordered him to issue a public apology during the October 15 council meeting.
On November 5, the board began the process of firing Adkins and said it “no longer wishes to employ Douglas Adkins because of irreconcilable differences between the board and Mr. Adkins regarding leadership style, and those differences make his continued work as city manager untenable.”
The termination was finalized on December 17, 2019.
The lawsuit says that after Adkins was fired, a “significantly younger woman” took over as acting city manager. Susan Cohen, a 39-year-old white woman, has been promoted to acting city manager. She held that position until City Manager Jim Palenick, a 60-year-old white man, was hired in July 2020.
Cohen left town this year to become Union Twp. administrator in the county of Clermont.
Paul Lolli, a 60-year-old white man and city fire chief, was named acting city manager after Palenick and the city council signed a mutual separation agreement, ending his term as chief of the second-most major town in Butler County. The deputy city manager is Nathan Cahall, a white man.
Two years ago, Adkins filed a federal age discrimination lawsuit against the city.
He filed the complaint on April 13, 2020 with the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission field office in Cincinnati. The EEOC enforces federal civil rights laws that protect people from discrimination and retaliation in the workplace.
This lawsuit was dismissed on November 24, 2020, according to the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.