Grant County clerk files lawsuit over removal

Posted at 7:19 PM, Jan 01, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-01 21:28:44-05

WILLIAMSTOWN, Ky. -- A longtime Grant County clerk has filed a lawsuit against her former bosses, alleging age and disability discrimination, among other things.

Connie McClure Ellington, 56, filed a federal lawsuit this week in the U.S. District Court of Eastern Kentucky, naming three defendants: Stephen Wood, the county judge-executive; Scott Kimmich, Wood's deputy; and the Grant County Fiscal Court, where she worked.

A video recording made public late last year shows Wood and the three other men talking about firing Ellington. Wood uses some crude language:

"I told [his wife] if I'm going to replace Connie, she's going to be blonde, 24, big t---."

He then goes on to tell a sexist joke, also using crude language.

"She's way overpaid, way overpaid," one of the men says.

Jailer Chris Hankins warns Wood the public won't like it.

"They think what the administration did to a little old lady that lives on the lake," Hankins said.

Wood reminds Hankins that Ellington voted against them.

"She voted against you and she voted against me," Wood says. 

In a letter to Grant County, Ellington says the tape shows she was fired over her age and politics.

Wood, in a statement from November, appeared to say that Hankins set him up and indicated he would not comment on the matter.

"It is offensive for someone to allege I would ever make personnel decisions based on a locker room joke which, I only recently learned was secretly recorded in a meeting at the jailer's office at his request. I look forward to the opportunity to vigorously defend these allegations in a court of law. I have I have always put the interest of the citizens of this county first in every decision I have made.  On the advice of council, I will have no further comment on pending litigation."

According to the lawsuit, Ellington was told her position, which she'd held since 1990 and paid her $48,000 a year, was being eliminated and replaced with a part-time position, paying $30,000. Instead, she claims, the county hired a 26-year-old woman for a full-time job at $32,000 a year.

Ellington's lawsuit seeks reinstatement to her job, compensatory damages "for humiliation, embarrassment, emotional suffering, and/or punitive damages directly caused by Defendants’ improper and illegal acts" and attorneys' fees.

Her attorney said in November Ellington was seeing $750,0000.