A federal judge ruled Wednesday that a lawsuit brought by Philadelphia’s former chief information officer, Charles Brennan, can proceed against the city’s top officials, including Mayor Jim Kenney, after denying the city government’s motion to dismiss the case.
Brennan, who was fired in January , is suing Kenney; Jane Slusser, the mayor’s chief of staff; and Christine Derenick-Lopez, the city’s chief administrative officer over what Brennan claims was retribution for questioning the municipal government’s diversity hiring guidelines.
In his original suit, filed April 5 , Brennan also named the city’s chief diversity officer, Nolan Atkinson. But a revised complaint filed Monday removed Atkinson as a defendant.
Earlier this month, lawyers for the city moved to have Kenney, Slusser and Atkinson removed as defendants , arguing that Brennan had failed to back up his allegations that they had violated his rights under federal and Pennsylvania whistleblower protections. The motion did not argue to dismiss the claims against Derenick-Lopez, and she remains a defendant on the refiled complaint along with Slusser and Mayor Kenney.
In the suit, Brennan’s lawyers argued he was fired after resisting what he said were orders to hire workers for the Office of Information Technology based on skin color rather than skill. He also claimed that Atkinson had told him his department was “too white” and featured “too many Asian” employees.
Brennan, the longtime IT head for the Philadelphia Police Department who came out of retirement to join Kenney’s administration in 2016, alleges his firing was also a response to his criticizing city contracts to Derenick-Lopez, who was his direct supervisor.