A former employee of the Monroe County Assessor’s Office filed a lawsuit against Monroe County Assessor Carl Wuertz in federal court this week alleging unlawful termination and a violation of her First Amendment right to free speech.
The plaintiff, Kristin Egbert, had worked in the assessor’s office for several years until her firing earlier this fall. In her lawsuit, which was filed earlier this week in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois at East. St. Louis, she claims that Wuertz openly distributed campaign materials late this past summer to staff members in his office to promote his re-election. Wuertz, a Republican, is running against Democrat Barrie Scott on Nov. 4.
Egbert alleges that Wuertz placed a hidden camera in his office over the summer to monitor operations and “as part of a scheme to manufacture a reason” for her termination.
Shortly after this camera was installed, the filing alleges, Wuertz either pretended to work on campaign materials while at work or in fact did prepare a political speech in the office when he knew or should have known doing so would be in violation of state and federal laws.
Egbert, “in an effort to report and preserve evidence of Wuertz’s illegal activity,” per the filing, made a photocopy of this supposed speech. Wuertz used this photocopy as justification for her firing, claiming she had been snooping around on his desk.
“Wuertz intended and expected (Egbert) to report and ‘whistleblow’ his illegal activity,” the lawsuit states.
Egbert is seeking in excess of $75,000 on two counts for loss of income, emotional distress and attorney fees.
When approached by the Republic-Times, Wuertz said he could not comment on the lawsuit. Wuertz, 50, has served as assessor for the past 8.5 years and has worked in the county assessor’s office for 13 years.
To view the lawsuit filing in its entirety, click here.