A former Wood River Township employee has filed a lawsuit alleging she was fired for refusing to sell tickets to a political fundraiser on behalf of her supervisor.
Sheena Howard was an employee of the Wood River Township Assessor’s office under Democratic assessor Sandy Shaw until she was fired June 1. She filed suit Aug. 3, alleging she was fired for blowing the whistle on inappropriate political activity in the assessor’s office.
Howard’s suit alleges that prior the April election, Shaw gathered the assessor’s employees in a meeting and instructed them that they were expected to sell a certain number of tickets to an upcoming fundraiser or buy at least two tickets themselves.
Howard said that two weeks later, she protested the request during an office meeting and was reprimanded by Shaw for her conduct. Five days later, Howard said she contacted Republican Township Supervisor Mike Babcock and informed him of the situation, which she believed to be illegal.
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In the ensuing weeks, Howard received two more reprimands alleging that she was taking too much time off work. Howard maintains she did not use any more sick or vacation time than she was allotted per her employment, and that she was compensated for nine hours of unused sick time as part of her termination.
Howard requests $50,000 in lost and future wages; $50,000 for pain and suffering; unspecified punitive damages; and attorneys’ fees.
Shaw and Babcock could not be reached for comment. Howard’s attorney, Jack Daugherty, said he could not comment on pending litigation. The township has not yet filed a response and no attorney has filed an appearance with the court. The township’s regular attorney, Don Weber, could not be reached for comment.