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Clark County sued for wrongful termination

The former director of Clark County’s home incarceration program as filed a lawsuit against the Clark County Fiscal Court, claiming it did not follow policy for terminating an employee.

Steve Noble’s employment was terminated by the fiscal court during its Oct. 24, 2019, meeting, following a 41-minute executive session.

The court voted 5-1, with Judge-Executive Chris Pace voting no.

Noble said the Oct. 24 vote violated the county’s employee handbook and the policy.

Noble said no other disciplinary action was recommended and he was denied a “right to respond” hearing.

Noble said he had no warnings or documentation to indicate any issues with his work performance.

Friday, Pace said the lawsuit seemed to be a difference in “legal interpretation” between County Attorney William Elkins and Noble’s attorney, former county attorney Brian Thomas.

“Clearly the fiscal court felt justified in terminating Mr. Noble’s employment,” Pace said.

In the lawsuit filed in Clark Circuit Court, Noble said he was hired by the county in 2010. In August 2019, Noble said he began raising questions about the actions of the county constables concerning an arrest.

After meeting with the county attorney, Noble said he filed an open records request with the county constable association, which was followed by a complaint with Pace when the association did not respond to the request.

Noble said in the suit that Constable Jerry Edwards said he spoke with the county magistrates and “they were going to take care of (Noble) if (he) did not quit ‘picking’ on them and to quit trying to stir up trouble.”

After expressing concerns, Noble said Pace had two meetings with him to discuss Noble’s social media posts. Pace said some of the magistrates felt the posts were in reference to the magistrates, but Noble said none specifically mentioned the magistrates or were derogatory. Noble also said Pace told him some of the magistrates wanted him to be fired.

Noble said he was given no reasons for his dismissal and there was no recommendation to terminate his employment. Noble said the policy requires the judge-executive to issue a letter of intent to dismiss and gives the employee the chance to speak before the personnel committee and respond to the letter. Noble said he had neither.

Noble is asking for unspecified compensatory and punitive damages, and court costs.

This is the second time Pace and the county have been sued for wrongful termination. Earlier in January, two former employees in the judge-executive’s office in Henry Branham’s administration filed suit in federal court saying they were fired for supporting Branham in the November 2018 election. Both cases are pending in U.S. District Court in Lexington.

About Fred Petke

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

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