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Published: 10/7/2009

Ex-Finkbeiner aide sues over resignation

BY ERICA BLAKE
BLADE STAFF WRITER

After nearly two years on the job, Brian Schwartz resigned as the executive assistant for Toledo Mayor Carty Finkbeiner, but only because he was forced to by the city's enforcement of illegal residency requirements, according to a lawsuit filed yesterday in Lucas County Common Pleas Court.

Brian Schwartz claimed in the complaint that he received a letter from the mayor's chief of staff in April, 2008, alleging that he was not in compliance with the residency requirement.

The letter also warned he would be fired unless he put his Oregon home up for sale.

But, in light of a recent Ohio Supreme Court decision that upheld the 2006 state law forbidding residency requirements as a condition of employment, Mr. Schwartz claims he was wrongfully terminated and asked for in excess of $150,000 in back pay and damages.

"Most cities stopped enforcing [residency requirements] while the issue was being decided in the courts. In Toledo, they continued to fire people and used it as a bargaining chip with the unions," said attorney Scott Ciolek, who filed the lawsuit on Mr. Schwartz's behalf. "The Supreme Court then handed down a decision that Ohio law was valid."

In July, the high court decided cases filed by Toledo, Cleveland, and Dayton that challenged the state law.

The court disagreed with the cities' argument that the state law violated their constitutional right of home rule.

Several city employees who were terminated because they lived outside Toledo have filed lawsuits.

Mr. Schwartz claimed in the lawsuit that the "adverse housing market" made it so he could not sell his home "without suffering a substantial loss on the property." The complaint additionally said that because Mr. Schwartz was unable to comply with the city's "unreasonable and illegal demands," he resigned.

Megan Robson, a city spokesman, said the mayor does not comment on pending litigation. The case was assigned to Judge James Bates.



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