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3/28/2013 6:00:00 AM
'Biker' ties shouldn't have led to firing, says ex-Kingman employee
Doug McMurdo
Miner Staff Reporter

KINGMAN - A longtime city employee who was terminated because her husband belongs to an alleged outlaw motorcycle gang will have a personnel hearing in mid-May.

Melissa Summerson, a former human resources technician who spent 11 years with the city, was fired in December because her husband Bill Summerson is a member of the Desert Road Riders motorcycle club.

The May 15-16 hearing will determine if Summerson gets her job back and if the city overstepped boundaries when she was fired.

Through her attorney, David Kresin of Phoenix, she seeks reinstatement with back pay and benefits. She wants the city to pay her legal fees and other costs.

According to the Kingman Police Department, the Desert Road Riders have sided with the Hells Angels in an ongoing feud with the Vagos club.

The concern from the city's perspective is that Summerson, who had access to sensitive information as a human resources employee, would reveal home addresses of police officers to club members with an axe to grind.

There is no evidence Summerson was involved in such activity. She has a stellar employment record, according to city documents.

In its notice of termination, the city told Summerson that her association with an "OMG," an acronym for outlaw motorcycle gang, in tandem with her access to employee information "has our law enforcement, legal, dispatch and judicial system employees very concerned with regard to their personal information."

Summerson believes the manner in which she was fired violated her rights and her freedom to associate.

While police believe the Desert Road Riders have been a "support club" of the Hells Angels for more than a decade, Summerson in her formal response to the city said the Desert Road Riders are a family club that supports each other and the community.

She said she would never release sensitive information found in the city's employee files.

"Honesty, integrity, confidentiality, respect and professionalism were instilled in me by my parents," she wrote.

Last year, a handful of Hells Angels and Desert Road Riders were acquitted of rioting charges related to a 2009 bar brawl with members of the Vagos in Bullhead City.

City Attorney Carl Cooper confirmed the personnel hearing has been scheduled, but declined to comment since it's a personnel issue.

Attempts to contact Summerson were not immediately successful.

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• Ex-Kingman employee fired for biker ties sees case move forward
• Employee fired for husband's biker ties sues city of Kingman

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Reader Comments

Posted: Thursday, January 9, 2014
Article comment by: V Stokes

"any employer can fire any employee with no notice or reason "

I believe that to be long as it's not a violation of civil rights...such as race, age, religion, or affiliation. I think that is what the lawsuit is all about.

Posted: Thursday, January 9, 2014
Article comment by: Anson's Nephew

“Isn't Arizona a right to work state?... Doesn't that mean that any employer can fire any employee with no notice or reason?”

Yep, but for some reason the usual suspects are not pulling out the “right to work” canard this time around. I wonder why that is?

Posted: Thursday, January 9, 2014
Article comment by: Nikki Berry

Isn't Arizona a right to work state?

Doesn't that mean that any employer can fire any employee with no notice or reason (unless an employment contract is involved)?

And if that's true, then it seems to me that it would have been better for the City not to tell this woman why she was fired, because now that they gave their reason (which is complete BS) it's actionable, as we see here.

Someone educate me if I'm wrong on the right to work thing, please.

Posted: Wednesday, May 1, 2013
Article comment by: Rose Hathaway

Geez as if anything the City of Kingman does should surprise anyone anymore... they pull bizarre catch-all policies out of a hat to fire employees. Makes no bit of difference who you are and how long you have worked for them. There is no honor amongst thieves.

Posted: Saturday, March 30, 2013
Article comment by: R .


Okay? And? Al Capone set up soup kitchens for the what does that prove?

Posted: Friday, March 29, 2013
Article comment by: Also Been There

Unbelievable. I too was asked to leave a government position in Kingman because of my husband. It's not right. Good luck Melissa!

Posted: Friday, March 29, 2013
Article comment by: DRR BIKER BACKER

Does anyone KNOW at the City what the Desert Road Riders do around here? WHAT other group does monthly rides for charitable organizations - Toys for Tots, Bringing joy, and yes, stuffed animals to our senior citizens forgotten in nursing homes, an annual huge donation to one of our dog rescues, etc. etc. etc. And they are "alledged" outlaws"?? And to fire someone who's husband is in a group that does this - give me a break! This WILL be a court trial folks, more of our tax dollars wasted because of sheer stupidity.

Posted: Friday, March 29, 2013
Article comment by: Roland St. Germain Jr.

I met Ms. Summerson dealing with H.R. due to an injury. Ms. Summerson was a professional, true and honest individual.She conducted herself with the greatest professional level offering to assist in any way she could.
Maybe she wasn't fired for the "Biker" issue, but perhaps for office issues. If it was for the "Biker" issue then they need to fire one or more of their supervisors, who ride and are involved with motorcraft sports organizations.
Furthermore, if they are "worried" about what Ms. Summersoin "might" say, they should "really" be worried about what others in the organization "are" saying.
I'll take my stand and chances with Ms. Summerson. At least she is honest, more than I can say about some.

Posted: Friday, March 29, 2013
Article comment by: Tj Denton

You gotta be kidding me!! Stupidity

Posted: Friday, March 29, 2013
Article comment by: Get All The Facts Please

Marc, I am sure there is more to the story than this. I hate when people make assumptions based upon news articles. I am sure in time the full truth will come out. So far we have only heard one side of the story.

Posted: Friday, March 29, 2013
Article comment by: Another Thought

Let's see, well, if you allow to hire and fire based on your tweets or Facebook postings, then why not do the same for the company you keep!

Posted: Friday, March 29, 2013
Article comment by: Rick O'Shea

I will say this much, if she had tried to get on with the city or county where I used to work she would have never made it past the background investigation. Anytime people are in a position to obtain confidential information they should go through a background check, most law enforcement agencies have restricted their employees information from the DMV due to DMV employees using the information for illegal purposes, the city made the right call before an incident happens and the city is sued.

Posted: Friday, March 29, 2013
Article comment by: G Ma

Didn't some of the City Officials have kids of their own busted and brought to jail for Drug Dealing and other crimes ?

Being these City Officials had " TIES " to their own kids how come they weren't fired . ? I hope this woman sues and wins her case against this City .

How dare they do this when they can't even tell when their own kids are DRUG DEALERS and probably doing it right under the City Official Parents noses .

Posted: Thursday, March 28, 2013
Article comment by: Billy Kid

If the police are so worried about the public knowing where they live, why do they all get to take marked patrol cars home and display them in their driveways? Did the HR Director, Police Chief, City Manager or better yet, City Attorney put any thought into this at all ? This woman could hire a rookie attorney and win this case!

Posted: Thursday, March 28, 2013
Article comment by: ss dd

Please, anyone can go to the Mohave County Assessor site and look up anyone in the county (that owns property) in order to get their address.

Posted: Thursday, March 28, 2013
Article comment by: just thinking

I was thinking , judge Gumier rode a harley and that worked out (nice guy) and what about people that belong to the elks alot of talking goes on there I would guess, gotta get away from that BIKER image thats in the past, time to move on , and get along

Posted: Thursday, March 28, 2013
Article comment by: Cheryl Blum

Let's see if I have this right? She has been with the City for 11 years and has never revealed any information as of yet? Sounds like the City has already convicted her on her husbands association with the Desert Road Riders MC.
I would think that the facts are clear and the City should reinstate her job and give her the back pay. I can't see the City winning this one and it will cost them more in the end. Oh and by the way women cannot be members of the Desert Road Riders. This is crazy!

Posted: Thursday, March 28, 2013
Article comment by: BEST FRIEND


Posted: Thursday, March 28, 2013
Article comment by: Citizen Me.


Posted: Thursday, March 28, 2013
Article comment by: R .

As my Great Grandfather used to say..."Show me who your friends are and I'll show you who you are."
I remember applying for the fire department many years in a city in the Midwest and a few questions on the application were related to whether or not I was linked to any subversive organizations or if anybody I knew was involved in a subversive organization. Presumably an answer confirming that I even knew anyone "subversive" would have resulted in my not being hired...when you're a government employee, you're generally held to a higher standard and you know this going in. It seems the city has a reasonable concern whether legitimate or not.

Posted: Thursday, March 28, 2013
Article comment by: Larry Mondello

I guess just about anybody can be fired for what they might do. You could rob a bank someday. After many years of working, paranoia set in? I guess Minority Report, the movie, will be used as an employment training tool.

Posted: Thursday, March 28, 2013
Article comment by: Freedom loving American Bill of right's

So let me get this right Kingman has convicted summerson of??? associating? since when is this against the law? She has no past of "leaking" information about personal working for kingman according to this article. Sound's like a witch hunt to me....just saying!

Posted: Thursday, March 28, 2013
Article comment by: Valley Geezer

An 11 year employee with a spotless record? What the hell is going on here? It sounds to me like amateur hour at the City of Kingman for sure. How can they possibly justify firing someone because of what they MIGHT do as the result of someone they are related to?

Taxpayers of Kingman, get ready to pay for the incompetence of those entrusted with the governance of your city.

Posted: Thursday, March 28, 2013
Article comment by: Right to Free Speech and Association

It is now official.......we have arrived as the Minority Report society!! What a town!!

Posted: Thursday, March 28, 2013
Article comment by: Friends Of Desert Roadriders

I have known Melissa and Bro Bill for Many years. I have been to MANY functions that the DRR have put on for the community. I cant believe that a job can be taken away just because who your friends are. I have had my job in this community for many years, does this too mean I will be fired for my association with the DRR or better yet my association of many clubs including the Kingsmen? After all they are a group that supports the community just like DRR, whats the difference? They wear Cowboy Boots and hats, the DRR wear leathers, but they both work for the good of the community,..... YOU GO MELISSA!!

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