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Former St. Louis corrections commissioner sues for discrimination

Former St. Louis corrections commissioner Gene Stubblefield and his attorney at a 2011 hearing of the city's public safety committee
Rachel Lippmann | St. Louis Public Radio
A Tuesday hearing of the public safety committee was the first time suspended corrections commissioner Gene Stubblefield (L) answered questions about recent jail breaks. His attorney, Sherrie Schroder, is at right.

Updated at 1:00 p.m. with comments from the city.

The former corrections commissioner for the city of St. Louis has sued over his firing, claiming it was racially motivated.

Gene Stubblefield filed the suit today. He was fired Dec. 11, a decision upheld last month by the city's Civil Service Commission, whose members are the plaintiffs.

Stubblefield was placed on forced leave last September just before the fourth escape from a city jail in the space of 15 months. Most of the charges filed in November 2011 did not relate directly relate to the escapes, but instead alleged that Stubblefield's failure to keep adequate records led to a backlog of more than $600,000 in bills. He was also charged with failing to follow procurement and personnel procedures.

Stubblefield has filed a claim with the Missouri Commission on Human Rights that other management-level city employees - all of whom were white - were not disciplined for similar conduct.

In the suit, Stubblefield also alleges that the disciplinary actions taken against him were "unlawful, arbitrary, capricious" and an abuse of discretion. He says the charges filed against him after two months on forced leave without pay were vague, and alleges that the city used the two months to "engage in a fishing expedition to discover or manipulate any evidence any evidence or wrongdoing, no matter how spurious or unsubstantiated a charge may have been, so that the City could scapegoat Plaintiff [Stubblefield] to relieve itself of the embarrassment of recent jail escapes."

City personnel director Richard Frank said he had not seen a copy of the complaint, but supported the Civil Service Commission's decision to uphold Stubblefield's termination.

Follow Rachel Lippmann on Twitter: @rlippmann

Rachel is the justice correspondent at St. Louis Public Radio.