Indian River County – Unlawful Employment, Unlawful Termination, Employee.

Indian River County – Unlawful Employment, Unlawful Termination, Employee.



Case No. : 2007-CV-14012-JEM



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Plaintiff, VICTORIA PHILLIPS by and through her undersigned attorney, sues Defendant INDIAN RIVER COUNTY and alleges:
1. This action is brought for violation of the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution.
2. This Court has original jurisdiction of this action under 28 U.S.C. Section 1331 and 42 U.S.C. Section 1988.
3. Plaintiff is and has been a resident of Indian River County, Florida, at all times material herein.
4. The Defendant is and was at all times relevant herein a government entity residing in Indian River County.
6. The unlawful employment practices alleged herein were committed within Indian River County, Florida.
7. Plaintiff was employed by Defendant from 1999 until December 18th, 2006. Plaintiff’s last employment title was Staff Assistant IV.
8. Plaintiff was terminated from her employment on or about December 15, 2006.
9. Plaintiff at all times material herein carried out her duties as an employee and Staff Assistant IV in a diligent and responsible manner.
10. On or about November 30, 2006 Plaintiff received a letter from Ms. Kimberly Massung, her supervisor, scheduling Ms. Phillips to a predetermination hearing regarding her employment. Ms. Massung accused Plaintiff of insubordination and incompetence.
11. On or about December 15, 2006, Plaintiff attended the predetermination hearing. The individual conducting the hearing was Ms. Massung. At this hearing, the Plaintiff did not have an opportunity to fairly present her case.
12. After the hearing, on December 18, 2006, Defendant informed Plaintiff that she was terminated.
13. On December 20, 2006 pursuant to the County’s policies and procedures, Plaintiff filed a post-termination appeal. Pursuant to the Defendant’s policies and procedures, the Defendant was required to hold a post-termination hearing within fourteen working days of the appeal request.
14. Plaintiff has retained the undersigned attorney and agreed to pay him a reasonable fee.
15. Plaintiff has exhausted her administrative remedies prior to bringing this action.
16. Plaintiff has complied with all conditions precedent prior to bringing this action.
Plaintiff incorporates and re-alleges, as fully as if set forth herein, paragraphs 1 through 16 of this Complaint.
17. Plaintiff had a property interest in continued employment with the Defendant. Plaintiff, pursuant to Defendant’s own Personnel Rules and Regulations, could only be discharged for “just cause”. Moreover, Plaintiff had an absolute right to a post-termination due process hearing within 14 working days of Plaintiff’s notice for appeal. Defendant did not afford Plaintiff her rights.
18. By terminating and later, failing to reinstate Plaintiff without a due process post-termination hearing within the prescribed fourteen working days, the Plaintiff has been deprived of her due process rights afforded to government employees.
19. By terminating Plaintiff, Defendant abridged Plaintiff’s constitutionally protected procedural due process rights. Specifically, Defendant, acting under color of state law, terminated Plaintiff’s employment without just cause, without affording Plaintiff the right to a termination hearing, and violated the Defendant’s own Personnel Rules and Regulations.
20. The conduct of Defendant complained of herein was willful, malicious, oppressive, wanton and in complete disregard of the rights of Plaintiff and accordingly, Plaintiff is entitled to recover punitive damages from said Defendant.
21. Plaintiff has suffered and continues to suffer grave and severe mental anguish and emotional distress, severe damage to her financial welfare, her employment prospects, her reputation in the community in which she lives and among her professional peers by reason of Defendant’s violation of Plaintiff’s rights.
WHEREFORE, Plaintiff, VICTORIA PHILLIPS, seeks the following relief:
A. Reinstatement to the position of Staff Assistant IV as held before the adverse personnel action taken by Defendant.
B. Reinstatement of all fringe benefits and seniority rights taken as of the date of Plaintiff’s termination.
C. Compensation for all lost wages, benefits and other lost remuneration from the time of the adverse personnel action taken by Defendant.
D. Damages for lost retirement savings.
E. Damages for mental anguish, loss of dignity and other intangible injuries.
F. Punitive Damages
G. An order directing Defendant to expunge Plaintiff’s personnel file of any record or reference in regard to her termination or purported reasons therefore.
H. Payment of all reasonable costs, including attorney fees.
Plaintiff incorporates and re-alleges, as fully as if set forth herein, paragraphs 1 through 16 of this Complaint.
22. Plaintiff has no complete and adequate remedy at law for the deprivation by the Defendants of Plaintiff’s constitutional rights. Inasmuch as Defendants termination of Plaintiff was unlawful and improper, Plaintiff requests the Court to enter an injunction to require Defendants to reinstate Plaintiff to the position of Staff Assistant IV, and that she be reinstated to the salary and benefits she had prior to the unlawful termination.
WHEREFORE, Plaintiff demands judgment against Defendant for the following requested relief:
(a) That this Court take jurisdiction over this cause and the parties hereto;
(b) That the Court find the Plaintiff’s constitutional rights were violated by the Defendants;
(c) That the Court enter judgment in favor of the Plaintiff and against Defendant for actual and compensatory damages, including back salary and other emoluments, including damages for loss of income for both the past and future; loss of employment benefits for both the past and the future; emotional and mental distress, mental anguish, loss of capacity for the enjoyment of life, annoyance, humiliation, loss of esteem among her peers and her friends, and a general lowering of her own estimate of her self-worth, all of such damages for both the past and the future;
(d) That the Court grant Plaintiff equitable relief in the form of an injunction directing the Defendant to reinstate the Plaintiff with full back pay, seniority, and other employment benefits;
(e) That the Court enter an injunction prohibiting the Defendant from taking any retaliatory action against the Plaintiff;
(f) That the Court award Plaintiff her reasonable attorney’s fees and costs pursuant to 42 United States Code, Section 1988; and
(g) That the Court grant such other relief as equity and justice may require.

PLAINTIFF demands a trial by jury.
Dated: January ___, 2007
Respectfully submitted,

Wayne L. Allen, Esquire
Florida Bar No. 0110025
Maurice Arcadier, Esquire
Florida Bar No. 131180
Attorneys for Plaintiff
700 N. Wickham Road, Suite 107
Melbourne, Florida 32935
Phone: (321) 254-7550
Fax: (321) 242-1681

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