Public health officer in Michigan keeps her job after lengthy legal fight over COVID rules

Feb 27, 2024, 4:46 PM | Updated: 5:38 pm

WEST OLIVE, Mich. (AP) — An embattled public health officer in Michigan will get to keep her job, after a lengthy legal fight with county commissioners over pandemic-era mask mandates concluded Tuesday with the board bowing to the will of a court-ordered arbitrator.

The Ottawa County Board of Commissioners voted 11-0 Monday to retain Adeline Hambley as county health officer, part of a settlement to end her lawsuit against the board.

The commissioners first tried to fire Hambley in January 2023 after conflict over COVID-19 restrictions.

But when they were unable to, they offered her a $4 million settlement in return for her resignation, then rescinded the offer, saying it was only a tentative settlement agreement.

Hambley sued the commissioners over her “termination in violation of public policy.” The state’s appeals court ruled in October that Hambley could be fired only for “just cause.”

Instead, the matter would be decided by an arbitration panel consisting of three members: one chosen by Hambley, another by the county and a third by a mediator.

After more than 12 hours of mediation, the two sides agreed on a settlement in which Hambley would keep her job. It included a section stating that if the board tries to fire Hambley again before January 2025, the board would not have the power to do so.

“It was absolutely a priority,” said Sarah Howard, Hambley’s attorney. “There’s no predicting what’s going to happen in the future. … My client has wanted nothing more than to stay and lead this department.”

“Today, the Ottawa County Board of Commissioners came to a mutual agreement, subject to court approval, to end all litigation involving the health officer,” Board Chair Joe Moss posted on social media following the meeting. “All legal issues between the parties will be resolved, and Ms. Hambley will continue in her role as health officer, as previously decided by the Appeals Court.

Public health officers are responsible for setting local public health policy. Officials who usually worked behind the scenes managing immunizations and water quality inspections found themselves center stage during the COVID-19 pandemic, as elected officials and members of the public who were frustrated with lockdowns and safety restrictions turned public health workers into politicized punching bags.

United States News

Associated Press

Stock market today: Asian shares gain despite Wall Street’s tech-led retreat

Asian shares advanced on Thursday even after sinking technology stocks sent Wall Street lower in the S&P 500’s worse losing streak since the start of the year. U.S. futures were lower, while oil prices gained. Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 climbed 0.3% to 38,079.70 and the Hang Seng in Hong Kong gained 1.3% to 16,468.07. The Shanghai […]

23 minutes ago

Associated Press

Takeaways from this week’s reports on the deadly 2023 Maui fire that destroyed Lahaina

HONOLULU (AP) — More than half a year after the deadliest U.S. wildfire in more than a century burned through a historic Maui town, officials are still trying to determine exactly what went wrong and how to prevent similar catastrophes in the future. But two reports released this week are filling in some of the […]

4 hours ago

A anti-abortion supporter stands outside the House chamber, Wednesday, April 17, 2024, at the Capit...

Associated Press

Democrats clear path to bring proposed repeal of Arizona’s near-total abortion ban to a vote

Democrats in the Arizona Senate cleared a path to bring a proposed repeal of the state’s near-total ban on abortions to a vote.

6 hours ago

Associated Press

Oklahoma man arrested after authorities say he threw a pipe bomb at Satanic Temple in Massachusetts

BOSTON (AP) — An Oklahoma man was arrested Wednesday after authorities accused him of throwing a pipe bomb at the Massachusetts headquarters of a group called The Satanic Temple. The Salem-based group says on its website that it campaigns for secularism and individual liberties, and that its members don’t actually worship Satan. Sean Patrick Palmer, […]

9 hours ago

Associated Press

Ellen Ash Peters, first female chief justice of Connecticut Supreme Court, dies at 94

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Ellen Ash Peters, who was the first woman to serve as Connecticut’s chief justice and wrote the majority opinion in the state Supreme Court’s landmark school desegregation ruling in 1996, has died. She was 94. Peters, who also was the first female faculty member at Yale Law School, passed away Tuesday, […]

11 hours ago

Associated Press

Vermont farms are still recovering from flooding as they enter the growing season

BERLIN, Vt. (AP) — Hundreds of Vermont farms are still recovering from last July’s catastrophic flooding and other extreme weather as they head into this year’s growing season. Dog River Farm, in Berlin, Vermont, lost nearly all its produce crops in the July flooding. The farm removed truckloads of river silt and sand from the […]

11 hours ago

Sponsored Articles



Desert Institute for Spine Care is the place for weekend warriors to fix their back pain

Spring has sprung and nothing is better than March in Arizona. The temperatures are perfect and with the beautiful weather, Arizona has become a hotbed for hikers, runners, golfers, pickleball players and all types of weekend warriors.


Midwestern University

Midwestern University Clinics: transforming health care in the valley

Midwestern University, long a fixture of comprehensive health care education in the West Valley, is also a recognized leader in community health care.


DISC Desert Institute for Spine Care

Sciatica pain is treatable but surgery may be required

Sciatica pain is one of the most common ailments a person can face, and if not taken seriously, it could become one of the most harmful.

Public health officer in Michigan keeps her job after lengthy legal fight over COVID rules