Aug 29 2014
05:59 pm

A longtime assistant to Circuit Court Judge Harold Wimberly has filed suit in Circuit Court against Circuit Court Judge-elect Bill Ailor, who defeated Wimberly in the August General Election.

Plaintiff Judith Moore Pennoyer, 60, is a 24-year Circuit Court employer who worked for Wimberly for the past 16 years.

The lawsuit accuses Ailor of interfering with her employment with the state of Tennessee and says she received a letter from Ailor on August 28 informing her that she no longer has a job. Pennoyer, who has multiple sclerosis, is represented by David Dunaway, who sued Ailor individually, not in his capacity as a judge-elect (not even sure there is such a thing). the state of Tennessee is also named.

Wimberly presided over Division II. Ailor will take the bench Sept. 2.

Pennoyer filed her case in Division III, which is presided over by Judge Deborah Stevens.

Hildegard's picture

I really like Judy and I

I really like Judy and I supported Harold. I think Ailor is a slick opportunist. But I don't see how she wins this.

Pam Strickland's picture

Yeah, that suit doesn't make

Yeah, that suit doesn't make sense. Judges, as I understand it, are free to hire their own staff. I don't get what the grounds would be.

Bbeanster's picture

The grounds, as I understand

The grounds, as I understand it, are that she is/was an employee of the state, not of the judge personally.
The suit also says, alternatively, that she cannot be summarily fired, especially by someone who was not yet a judge (the letter was dated August 26), and is entitled to adequate notice. There may be an allegation of discrimination due to her disability, as well

I'm not opining on this, except to observe that it's going to be very awkward. Just reporting that the lawsuit has been fired.

Employment at will means you can be fired for any reason or no reason; just not for a bad reason.

Pam Strickland's picture

Hmmm. I'm thinking this is

Hmmm. I'm thinking this is tricky. I worked for the Arkansas Atoorney General's Office back in the day. Yes, we were state employees, but we all knew that when the election our employment was up to the new guy. And the decision was made before he took office, which was the practical thing. He brought in his folks and we got our new jobs. I think anybody who works for an elected official knows this.

fischbobber's picture

All well and good.......

She only worked for Wimberly for 16 years. She's a 24 year old employee without access to affordable healthcare absent her job, who is clearly suffering political retribution. Should there not be a viable reason for her termination, this could be interesting, and ugly. Were she merely an appointee of Wimberly this would probably not be a case, however, she must be replaced by someone clearly and demonstrably more qualified for her case to be negated. This is fascinating stuff.

Oddly, Haslam's position and implementation of his healthcare policy could end up costing the county literally millions if she wins this case. Were Tennessee participating in the ACA and Ms. Pennoyer had access to affordable and ACCESSIBLE healthcare, her reasonable damages would be considerably reduced.

Roscoe Persimmon's picture

I'd bet Judge Stevens would recuse herself in that case

get a special judge to come in from an adjacent county to hear the case. The circuit court judges offices are line up along the back wall of the city county building with the jury rooms interspersed along the way.

Maybe Dunaway should see if new chancellor Eddie Pridemoore might want to take a crack at that case as the first one out of the blocks.

Bbeanster's picture

Dunaway'd probably love to

Dunaway'd probably love to make the acquaintance of Chancellor Pridemore

JF's picture

She is an employee of the

She is an employee of the state, she should not lose her job over politics. I understand the politics of this and quite frankly it stinks. Those of us who work outside of the political arena would be filing suit if it happened to us and I hope she wins. I understand wanting to have your own staff, but that should not give you carte blanche to end someone's career. She has done her job well enough for 24 years to retain her various positions. There should be a safety net for this. So how would everyone feel if JJ Jones had come in and fired every person working in the Sheriff's Dept and hired all his friends and supporters? Politicians can bring their sycophants in, qualified for the job or not and get away with it but shouldn't be allowed to fire anyone, especially before they take office. This guy is already on a power trip. Wonder how he will be as a trier of fact? Not an auspicious start.

Anonymous.o. 's picture

Judge Bill Ailor

Why not speak to local attorneys and county and state employees who dealt with these "older" women on a daily basis to get a full opinion. Oh yes. Republicans too.

UnI gd7e

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