The outgoing executive director of the Cumberland Community Improvement District is leaving with a severance package that may suggest a less than amicable parting of ways.
Malaika Rivers, through a spokesperson, declined to comment on a separation agreement she signed waiving her right to pursue legal remedy or litigation against the CID in exchange for a lump sum of $350,000 and a mutually agreeable letter of recommendation from her former employer.
The document includes an acknowledgement that the severance amount exceeds what she might otherwise be entitled to, and bars all parties from commenting on the separation agreement other than to say it "was approved and speaks for itself."
“It is understood and agreed that the consideration given for this Separation Agreement is not to be construed as an admission of wrongdoing by anyone,” it reads.
Rivers has worked for the CID for more than 20 years.
Two labor attorneys who reviewed the agreement and a summary of Rivers’ salary and benefits came to different conclusions about what the document might mean.
Steven Wolfe, of Legare Attwood & Wolfe in Atlanta, said the severance amount and the release of liability seemed “fair and ordinary” based on how long Rivers worked for the CID and her base salary. He added that the confidentiality provisions included were, in fact, less restrictive than those typically found in the private sector.
“Nothing leapt out at me as being nonstandard,” he said.
But Amanda Farahany, of Barrett & Farahany in Atlanta, said that language to “dispose of all claims” is not typical of a separation agreement.
“The agreement itself could be fairly standard, but it reads more like a settlement agreement for a claim than an amicable separation,” Farahany wrote in an email. “Also, the amount is high and doesn’t seem aligned with a severance agreement, but more like a settlement.”
Tad Leithead, the chairman of the CID, declined to comment, citing the agreement, which was obtained by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution under the Open Records Act.