Attorneys try to save city worker's job
The mayor said city employees were advised not to move while residency laws are in question.
By NANCY TULLIS
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
YOUNGSTOWN -- Attorneys for city water employee Jeffrey Lampkin are trying to prevent Youngstown from terminating his employment as court battles continue over residency requirements.
Attorneys Dennis Haines and Charles W. Oldfield of Youngstown filed a motion Monday in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court seeking a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction.
The motion states that Lampkin lived in the city limits when he was hired Oct. 24, 2005, as a Laborer I in the city water department, and moved to his current address after May 1, 2006.
The lawsuit lists Lampkin's address as Celeste Drive, Youngstown. Haines said the mailing address is Youngstown, but the property is in Austintown Township. He said his client intends to live in Austintown Township.
Haines said, however, if Mayor Jay Williams wins his challenge of the Ohio law that prohibits political subdivisions from requiring employees to live in a specific area -- in this case within Youngstown city limits -- Lampkin will move back to Youngstown.
According to the motion, the Ohio law became effective May 1, 2006, and prohibits a political subdivision from requiring employees to live in a specific area of the state as a condition of employment. Also on May 1, Mayor Jay Williams filed action in the common pleas court seeking a declaration that Ohio law does not prohibit the city of Youngstown from imposing residency requirements on its employees.
The motion states that city ordinances and city charter sections that seek to impose residency requirements on employees are contrary to Ohio law. It states that the restraining order should be granted because Lampkin's employment will be terminated without one.
The mayor said the city is investigating Lampkin's residency status. He said employees were asked not to make any residential moves while the court considers residency requirements and whether municipalities can require employees to live in the city limits as a condition of their employment.
Williams said city officials do not want to terminate employees who live outside the city limits, but are well within their right to do so unless a court or city voters decide otherwise. He said the city will respect the decision of the highest appropriate court or a vote of the people.
Haines said they don't object to the mayor challenging the state law, which he has a right to do. Their objection is the mayor choosing to take action against the employees before any court rules on the city's challenge.