Former employees sue Pace for wrongful termination

Two former county employees claim they were fired from their positions a year ago for political reasons.

Susan Mullen and Norma Shuler recently filed illegal termination and civil right violation lawsuits against Clark County and Judge-Executive Chris Pace in U.S. District Court in Lexington.

The two women worked in the judge-executive’s office during Henry Branham’s administration.

Branham, a Democrat, was defeated in the 2018 general election by Pace, a Republican.

Mullen and Shuler said they each received a letter in the first week of January 2019 from Pace stating their “services will no longer be needed after Jan. 6, 2019,” according to the lawsuits.

The fiscal court later approved orders terminating their employment effective Jan. 9, 2019.

Mullen, a Democrat, and Shuler, a Republican, said it was well known they were supporting Branham’s re-election campaign.

Both women said they believe Pace retaliated against them for supporting Branham’s campaign.

Mullen said her employment was “terminated by (Pace and Clark County) for political reasons because she was a Democrat who worked for and politically supported Democratic County Judge-Executive Henry Branham in his reelection bid against Republican Chris Pace.”

Shuler’s lawsuit included a similar claim that she lost her job because she was a Republican who supported Branham and other Democrats in the 2018 election.

Thursday afternoon, Pace would not comment on the allegations in the lawsuits, but praised his current staff.

“I feel we have one of the most qualified staffs in any judge-executive’s office in Kentucky,” Pace said. “I feel my staff does a fine job. They are always available and very competent in what they do.”

Shuler and Mullen are seeking unspecified punitive and compensatory damages from the county and Pace in his official and individual roles for violating their civil rights.