Civic News

Ex-CIO Charlie Brennan sues city for wrongful termination

The suit, filed Wednesday in federal court, said Brennan was dismissed after objecting to the Kenney administration’s “unlawful racial practices and hiring.”

Former CIO Charles Brennan.

(Photo courtesy of Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia)

In a lawsuit filed Wednesday in federal court, former CIO Charlie Brennan is suing the City of Philadelphia, Mayor James Kenney and senior staffers over his January firing.

First reported by Philly Mag’s Victor Fiorillo,  the lawsuit states Brennan’s belief that he was let go due to “multiple unlawful retaliatory reasons,” namely, his objections to “unlawful racial practices and hiring” and his “whistleblowing objections as to expenditures and contracting.”

Cited in the lawsuit as defendants alongside Kenney and the city are Chief Administrative Officer Christine Derenick-Lopez, chief of staff Jane Slusser and Chief Diversity Oficer Nolan Atkinson.

Brennan, whose tenure at OIT was marred by a clash in workplace culture, alleges that Atkinson was “extremely pressuring” over hiring policies that favored people of color.

According to publicly available court documents, Brennan also butted heads with the administration over the $12.5 million deal with Taser manufacturer Axon. The former tech chief reportedly tried to stop the deal from happening and was “met with tremendous animosity.”

On the note of the body camera deal: the city’s Integrity Officer Ellen Mattleman Kaplan told WHYY that “in an ideal world, yes, we would have put out an RFP,” but changing vendors would have meant higher costs due to the need to substitute the footage’s storage system.

Comcast, and the terms of the franchise deal struck in 2015, were also mentioned in the suit. Brennan said he was asked to “take it easy” on the comms giant.


Brennan seeks an unspecified amount in damages.

“While we cannot comment specifically on the allegations in pending litigation, we are confident that all actions taken by the City were lawful,” city spokesman Mike Dunn said in a statement released Thursday. “We also note that issues concerning Mr. Brennan’s leadership while Chief Innovation Officer have been reported publicly. We will aggressively defend our record on these matters as this litigation moves forward.”

We reached out to Brennan via email and phone Thursday to no avail. A message left with his attorney, Ari Risson Karpf, seeking further information, was not immediately responded to.

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