A former Whitley County 911 dispatcher and shift supervisor is suing Whitley County Judge-Executive Pat White Jr. claiming that she was wrongfully terminated from her job last year because she talked with a Kentucky State Police detective about White and issues regarding possible illegal corruption.
Teresa Warren filed the lawsuit in U.S. District Court in London against White, both individually and in his official capacity as judge-executive.
White fired former Whitley County 911 Supervisor Angela Matney on April 19, 2010 and then fired Warren the next day.
"Dispatchers were referred to and called these unprofessional, demeaning and insulting ‘nicknames’ to their face, behind their back to others and expected to answer to the same as if it were their names," White said in the press release about the firings last year.
"Documented unprofessional, demeaning, insulting and intimidating inter-office e-mails that contain profanity and abusive language delivered between dispatchers from supervisor/management were plentiful. Several dispatchers indicated that the supervisor would use a Whitley County 911 assistant director to deliver these type of messages that she did not want the blame for."
Warren alleged in the lawsuit that shortly before April 19, 2010, White was aware that she had communicated with a state police detective and that he fired her for disclosing information to the detective about issues of public concern including, but not necessarily limited to "possible illegal corruption, unethical conduct, malfeasance, misfeasance and misconduct regarding the defendant’s performance in the office of Whitley County Judge Executive."
The lawsuit doesn’t indicate who the state police detective was, what the allegations were that Warren made to him, or how White found out about her conversation with state police.
"The defendant’s conduct in uttering false statements to the local press and others regarding the false and pre-textual reasons that he allegedly fired plaintiff constituted slander and slander per se, and have caused actual and implied damages to plaintiff’s person and professional reputation, mental distress, and other compensable injuries," the lawsuit alleged.
The lawsuit, which was filed by Somerset lawyer Nick Vaughn, claimed that White’s actions constituted a "wrongful and retaliatory discharge" of Warren in violation of the First and Fourteenth amendments to the U.S. Constitution.
"The foregoing actions of the defendant were of such intentional, willful, reckless, grossly negligent, oppressive and/or malicious nature that the plaintiff is entitled to recover punitive damages and attorney’s fees against the defendant," the lawsuit alleged.
The lawsuit seeks trial by jury, actual, compensatory and punitive damages and full reinstatement with Whitley County 911 with appropriate promotions and back pay, or alternatively, appropriate awards of back pay and front pay.
The lawsuit also seeks an award of reasonable attorney’s fees and costs.
When contacted by phone Tuesday afternoon, White declined to comment on the lawsuit noting that the litigation is still pending.
Records about the firing, which were obtained by the News Journal through an open records request, include a profanity laden recording of a telephone conversation between Warren and a Whitley County Sheriff’s Deputy and copies of e-mails between 911 dispatchers or supervisors that county officials reviewed during their investigation, some of which also contain profanity.
One item reviewed by county officials during their investigation is a recording of a telephone call between Warren and Sheriff’s Deputy Adam Jarboe on Feb. 20, 2010.
On the tape, Warren can be heard in a call to the Whitley County 911 dispatch center’s non-emergency line asking a dispatcher on duty if Jarboe is currently working.
When Warren finds out that he is, she asks the dispatcher to have him call dispatch center and connect her to him.
During the call, Warren can be heard telling Jarboe, "if I irritate the *()& out of you now, you just wait until you ^&** die because I am the *()( devil. You will hear my voice for eternity."
E-mails and memos obtained through the open records request show the use of profanity in e-mails sent by Warren to a fellow employee, and vice versa. Some appear to have been sent between the two in a joking manner.
An e-mail from Warren to dispatcher Kyle Kinney on Feb. 21, 2009, has in the subject line "gay negro," and the words "U SUCK."
On Feb. 21, 2009, Kenny sent an a-mail to Warren, with a subject line titled, "gonorrhea eye," and the text reads, "you suck more."