Lauri Parks appears to have more zeros in her complaint against the city of Grand Rapids than arguments. Lauri is suing the Michigan city for $1 billion after she was fired as city clerk. She alleges racial discrimination despite that fact that the city went to the unprecedented step of hiring a “personal coach” to help her improve her performance and then offered to move her to an $80,000 position. When she refused, she was fired and sued the city for racial discrimination. It is a more difficult claim to make given the fact that her replacement, Darlene O’Neal, is African American.
Parks is the granddaughter of the city’s only African-American mayor Lyman Parks. While she held a $95,000-per-year position, she was offered an $80,000 position. The mayor insisted that the city had never hired a personal coach for an employee to improve her performance. Nevertheless, supporters have rallied behind her in protesting racial discrimination.
Parks, who was appointed to the job in 2008 and then let go after city commissioners voted in a special meeting performance review not to renew her one-year contract.
What is interesting is that the city expressly chose passion over experience in 2008 — turning down a more experienced person for the position. The outcome seemed to support the opposition of Second Ward Commissioner David LaGrand in 2008. LaGrand warned that Parks seemed baffled by a simple question of identification asked of her and warned “Elevating risk-taking to a virtue is not good policy. I don’t think we’re hiring passion for the city. That’s our job as commissioners.”
She is representing herself in seeking one billion dollars in damages.