Jury verdict favors employee in Little Rock wrongful termination case


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Little Rock, Arkansas – The city of Little Rock has faced a significant setback as a Pulaski County jury ruled in favor of Roderick Keith King Hickman, a former employee of the Parks and Recreation department, in a landmark wrongful termination lawsuit.

The jury determined that the city had infringed upon Hickman’s civil rights, leading to his unwarranted dismissal. This verdict establishes a critical precedent, signifying a crucial turning point in the advocacy for employee rights and protection against discrimination. In this article, we will delve into the case specifics and evaluate the consequences of this profound triumph.

Roderick Keith King Hickman, aged 51 and originally from Pine Bluff, had been employed as the safety and training coordinator for the Parks department in Little Rock. After his dismissal in October 2016, less than 2½ months later, Hickman initiated a lawsuit against the city for alleged violations of the Arkansas Civil Rights Act. Central to his claims were concerns related to his mental health and a disagreement with his daughter’s private school.

Hickman maintained that he was unfairly dismissed without valid reason, contending that his firing was connected to his grievance about the school and his pursuit of workplace adjustments due to his mental health issues. Conversely, the city asserted that Hickman’s dismissal was warranted because of alleged misconduct, which included purported theft of a reservation fee for pavilions at Murray Park.

Following a three-day trial, the jury took approximately three hours to reach their verdict. The 12-person jury returned a 9-3 majority verdict favoring Hickman, determining that the city had indeed contravened his civil rights. They unanimously agreed that Little Rock is obligated to compensate him with over $323,000 in compensatory and punitive damages. This sum includes lost wages, benefits, and student loans, which would have been eligible for loan forgiveness had he not been wrongfully dismissed.

The successful lawsuit by Hickman carries significant implications for both the city of Little Rock and employers nationwide. The considerable damages awarded to Hickman are a stark reminder that wrongful termination lawsuits can result in hefty financial penalties for employers found in violation of their employees’ civil rights. The ruling also allows Hickman to recover all of his legal costs, adding further financial strain on the city and underscoring the importance of upholding employee rights within the workplace.

Furthermore, the jury’s decision may serve as a guiding principle for future cases pertaining to wrongful termination and discrimination. It delivers a potent message to employers, warning that they will be held accountable for any discriminatory practices against their workforce, thereby safeguarding employees from unwarranted dismissals and ensuring the preservation of their civil rights.


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