Iowa - City of Postville Pays $450,000 to Jewish Businessman In Discrimination Suit
Postiville, IA - Gabay Menahem, a former businessman and property owner here, has received $450,000 to settle discrimination and business interference lawsuits filed in state and federal court against the City of Postville, the city clerk and two members of the city council.
Menahem, a Hasidic Jew, alleged that Darcy Radloff, the city clerk; Virginia Medberry and Jeff Reinhardt, both members of the Postville City Council; had discriminated against him and his business, GAL Investments Ltd., on the basis of his Jewish faith. In so doing, they violated the Iowa constitution, the Iowa Civil Rights Act, the federal Civil Rights Act of 1866 and the 14th Amendment of the United States Constitution.
The allegations in the 22-count lawsuits filed in September 2010 were based primarily on hostile and injurious comments as well as published statements. The alleged bigoted behavior culminated with a string of discriminatory actions taken by the three defendants in their roles as agents of the City of Postville.
The lawsuits specifically alleged that Radloff in her role as city clerk circumvented and manipulated the rules governing the provision of municipal water in order to allow huge bills to amass at Menahem-owned properties. As a result Menahem suffered financially, allegedly losing many of his lenders as the artificial debts imposed by the City were turned into liens on his rental properties. GAL eventually collapsed.
Menahem notified city officials of the clerk’s alleged discrimination and abuse of authority, and he asked for help numerous times. Despite his pleas, the City of Postville allegedly failed to halt the abuse or to remedy her discriminatory practices.
The settlement terms also call for the City of Postville to host a community workshop on diversity issues, aimed at promoting tolerance and respect for different faiths and cultures. The workshop will be sponsored by Iowa State University.
Menahem was represented by civil rights attorneys David Goldman of Babich Goldman P.C. and Thomas Newkirk of the Newkirk Law Firm, both of Des Moines, Iowa. The attorneys reached an out-of-court settlement with the City of Postville.
“Mr. Menahem is pleased to have this matter resolved,” Goldman said. “We very much appreciate that the good people of Postville elected to resolve this case. One hopes that the community workshop can help with the city’s continued healing, while underscoring the need for the diverse cultures within Postville to unite rather than divide.”
While the City of Postville admitted no wrongdoing, Mr. Menahem says he “is satisfied that the settlement’s terms send a clear message that elected officials will be held accountable for their actions, and any practices that violate civil and constitutional rights will not be tolerated.”
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