Former County Employee Alleges Political Retribution

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A former county attorney has filed a lawsuit against the Board of County Commissioners alleging that she was fired as political retribution.

Wendy S. Kearney, of Mount Airy, worked in the county attorney’s office from September 1989 to Feb. 25, 2011, when she was fired without advance notice, according to the complaint filed Wednesday in Frederick County Circuit Court.

The lawsuit names the Board of County Commissioners, specifically board President Blaine Young and commissioners Billy Shreve, Paul Smith and Kirby Delauter.

Kearney alleges that her abrupt firing violated the Family and Medical Leave Act, was a breach of contract, and did not allow her due process under state and federal laws.

The lawsuit claims that County Attorney John Mathias was directed in 2011 by the newly elected board to recommend Kearney’s position for elimination as political retribution for her role in defending the county on land-use and development issues. That role was in contrast to the interest of developers that had supported the commissioners’ elections to the board, according to the lawsuit.

“I’ve heard this accusation before,” Young said Thursday evening. “That’s untrue.”

He had not yet received a copy of the complaint, nor had the county.

Young said Kearney’s position was among hundreds identified as part of a cost-cutting measure. Several people in various departments lost their jobs as part of the same round of layoffs, he said.

“It had to do with the budget issues we were having at the time,” Young said. “No one likes to eliminate positions, but all companies have to do it.”

The lawsuit alleges that many of the names on the list for cost-cutting were identified at a trade association meeting and it was “known throughout the community that a ‘Developer’s Hit List’ was being formulated.”

Kearney also argues that her position as a “regular employee” and not someone in a probationary status afforded her an appeals process that was marred with bias and secrecy about the document that recommended her elimination.


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Joyce Smithey, a seasoned employment and labor law attorney, has over 22 years of experience representing both employers and employees in Maryland and D.C. Her practice, rooted in a deep understanding of employment law, spans administrative hearings to federal litigation. Joyce's approach is comprehensive, focusing on protecting client interests while ensuring legal compliance. A Harvard graduate, her career began in Fortune 500 companies, transitioning to law after a degree from Boston University School of Law. Joyce's expertise is recognized by numerous awards, including Maryland’s Top 100 Women. At Smithey Law Group LLC, which she founded in 2018, Joyce continues to champion employment rights, drawing on her rich background in law and business.

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