County officers say employee was fired over efficiency, not retaliation for taking COVID-19 precautions | Putnam Information

WAYNE – Wayne County officials responding to a federal lawsuit said a former employee was fired for performance, not in retaliation for her caution during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Former Wayne County Sheriff’s Department Patricia Romans filed a lawsuit against the Wayne County Commission and Sheriff Rick Thompson in December, accusing them of family and Medical Leave Act discrimination and retaliation.

The Romans said she was released after asking the sheriff’s office to follow CDC recommendations for COVID-19 precautions such as wearing masks.

In response, Defendants Wendy Greve and Jacob Layne’s attorneys at Pullin, Fowler, Flanagan, Brown and Poe PLLC said, “The applicant did not attend work and her performance was otherwise unsatisfactory and she did not have reasonable expectations for further employment. ”

They wrote that all actions taken were not about their medical problems, but were taken with a legitimate business purpose.

Romans was hired as an employee in January 2019 and was charged with processing tax payments, among other duties.

The Romans said she was released after her FMLA vacation was over to protect her from contracting COVID-19 due to a lung-related illness. Her attorney, Hoyt Glazer, said she had requested compliance with a mask wearing policy, but when the defendants refused to implement it, she said goodbye.

The Romans said the defendants did not obey the mask mandates, and their staff openly mocked her for wearing one by telling her she would kill herself.

After Governor Jim Justice issued an order to stay at home in March, the Romans doctor asked that she be allowed to work at home, but the defendants did not respond to her request for the next seven months.

Instead, her doctor filled out her application for FMLA leave in July, stating that she would need it by the end of October. She was approved for unpaid leave; However, prior to her return, she received a letter saying she had been fired the same day she was due to return.

In her response, the defendants said she had been fired, but that was based on her previous performance.

Glazer claims the Romans’ dismissal was in retaliation for their request for assurances that employees would comply with the mask mandate and other protective measures under FMLA.

Both the Romans and the accused have applied for a trial by a jury.

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