County files response to wrongful termination suit

The Clark County Fiscal Court and four of its magistrates are asking a wrongful termination lawsuit filed by a former employees be dismissed.

The matter is scheduled to be heard by Clark Circuit Judge Jean Chenault Logue Thursday morning.

The suit was filed by Nichole Lainhart in September. In it, she claims she was terminated by the fiscal court on a 5-2 vote for reporting a confrontation between another county employee and Clark County Attorney Brian Thomas, who was not named as a defendant.

In the county’s response, it claims Lainhart was terminated for job performance issues, including violating the county’s social media policy by posting to Facebook while on duty.

The county also said Lainhart was not subject to sue under the Whistleblower Act because it does not cover “disagreements with supervisors over job-related activities” and it was not reported to the “appropriate body or authority” as required.

In the original suit, Lainhart said she witnessed a confrontation between Thomas and an employee in Clark County Judge-Executive Henry Branham’s office. The employee later resigned. Lainhart claimed as the elected county attorney, Thomas had no authority over the employee, who was not named.

Lainhart said she spoke with one of the county’s six magistrates and the matter was reported to Branham.

On July 10, Lainhart posted on Facebook that she intended to speak about the situation during the fiscal court meeting the following day and that she expected to be fired. At the end of that day, Lainhart said Branham presented her with a letter detailing several work-related issues and that she would be terminated.

During the July 11 meeting and after a long closed session, the court voted 5-2 to terminate Lainhart’s employment. The suit was filed against Branham and the four magistrates who voted to terminate her employment: Pam Blackburn, Robert Blanton, Joe Graham and Sheila McCord.

Magistrates Daniel Konstantopoulos and Greg Elkins, who voted no, were not named as defendants.

The suit also named Branham and the four defendants in their individual capacity, which the county claims they are covered under legislative immunity and the case should be dismissed as well.

About Fred Petke

Fred Petke is a reporter for The Winchester Sun, the Jessamine Journal and the State Journal. His beats include cops, courts, fire, public records, city and county government and other news. To contact Fred, email fred.petke@bluegrassnewsmedia.com or call 859-759-0051.

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