WHEELING, W.Va. (AP) — A secretary who says she was fired over a Facebook posting made from her home computer and on her own time is suing a West Virginia sheriff’s department for federal civil rights violations.
Sonya Olako says she was fired last year because she told people to avoid a restaurant owned by a friend of her boss, Ohio County Sheriff Patrick Butler.
She sued Butler and the County Commission in Ohio County Circuit Court in March, but the case was moved Monday to U.S. District Court in Wheeling.
Butler declined comment Tuesday. County Administrator Greg Stewart didn’t immediately return a message.
Olako contends her constitutionally protected rights to free speech, due process and a speedy trial were violated.
Her lawsuit accuses county officials of breach of contract, intentional infliction of emotional distress and wrongful discharge.
The lawsuit doesn’t identify the restaurant but says she complained about it online after her iPhone was stolen there on March 14, 2012. A few days later, she recommended to her Facebook friends that they avoid the restaurant.
Olako says Butler fired her the following Monday. When she called human resources to complain, Olako said she was told she was suspended for one day. The sheriff then allegedly told her the suspension was for two days.
When she returned to work, the lawsuit says, Olako was summoned to a disciplinary meeting. She said she was fired when she asked whether she could bring her attorney.
A subsequent letter from human resources informed Olako she was fired for “job abandonment,” the lawsuit says.
Olako is seeking back pay, payment of future lost earnings, and unspecified compensatory and punitive damages.
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