There are important new developments this week in the controversial situation surrounding the human resources department at the county.
Kendra Montgomery, a former employee in the human resources (HR) department for Platte County, has been cleared of any criminal intent. In addition, the former employee alleges the county is pursuing a civil case against her out of retaliation for using her rights under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and because she was named as a witness in fellow HR worker LeAnna Fannon’s discrimination and harassment claim against the county.
Platte County Prosecutor Eric Zahnd told The Landmark this week that he will not file criminal charges against Montgomery. Montgomery faces a civil lawsuit brought by the Platte County Commissioners, who allege that Montgomery received more than $2,200 in unwarranted vacation time, medical leave and comp time between Jan. 16, 2008 until her dismissal in November of 2009.
“There was insufficient evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that she had any criminal intent. We are declining to prosecute,” Zahnd told The Landmark this week.
The county has alleged in the civil filing that Montgomery falsified records that credited her with 68.5 hours of vacation time, four hours of medical leave and 90.75 hours of comp time, totaling 163.25 hours. Montgomery earned a wage of $13.86 per hour.
Also new this week is information contained in Montgomery’s answer to the county’s allegations. Montgomery denies the allegations that she deliberately falsified time records to reflect that she was entitled to more vacation time hours, more medical leave hours and more comp time hours than she actually earned.
Montgomery also denies the county’s allegation that she gave herself credit for comp time hours which had not been approved by defendant’s supervisor.
Montgomery says in her answer that her immediate supervisor, LeAnna Fannon, approved Montgomery’s time sheets.
Montgomery’s answer claims the county’s suit against her is “retaliation for her assertion of rights under the Family and Medical Leave Act and/or because she was named as a witness and was interviewed in LeAnna Fannon’s charge of discrimination” against the county.
Fannon has made accusations of discrimination and sexual harassment against the county and specifically against Siobhann Williams, county auditor.
Fannon’s filing with the Missouri Commission on Human Rights claims that Montgomery witnessed the auditor “peering” at Fannon through a window and asked her to stop.
However, Montgomery has told The Landmark that she believes Fannon’s accusations against the auditor “are false.”
In regard to the FMLA, Montgomery says the county interfered with her right to take reasonable leave for her physical therapy due to a serious health condition and interfered with her right to restoration of her employment by terminating her after she took FMLA leave and requested leave for her physical therapy.
The counter claim against the county states that on Sept. 5, 2009, Montgomery informed Platte County Director of Administration Dana Babcock by home phone, as well as by FMLA paperwork on Sept. 10, 2009, that she was suffering from a “serious health condition” and that she would need to apply for leave under the FMLA.
According to the counter claim, Platte County approved Montgomery’s request for FMLA leave. However, upon Montgomery’s return to work on Sept. 9, 2009, she informed her supervisor (Babcock) that she would need to be in physical therapy three times a week for the next four weeks and the possibility of surgery existed.
Platte County terminated Montgomery’s employment on Nov. 12, 2009.
The counter claim alleges that “even though Platte County terminated Montgomery on the pretext of ‘inability to do her job,’ in reality Platte County terminated Montgomery’s employment because she exercised her rights under the FMLA.”
“As a result of Platte County’s unlawful conduct, Montgomery has lost wages and other valuable benefits,” Montgomery’s attorney, Mark Jess, says in the filing.
“Platte County’s conduct was willful and, therefore, Montgomery is entitled to liquidated damages under the FMLA,” the counter-claim states.
The filing requests the court to award Montgomery wages, salary, employment benefits and compensation for emotional distress, suffering, inconvenience, mental anguish, and loss of enjoyment of life. The court is asked to award Montgomery an additional amount as liquidated damages “equal to the sum of these damages and the interest on that amount.”
The court is also asked to grant Montgomery her attorney’s fees.
Montgomery also demands a jury trial.
The next hearing in the matter is scheduled for March 25 at 9 a.m. in Division V of Platte County Circuit Court. ￼