(LEX 18)– A former Department of Labor employee claims she was fired because of her involvement in Ky 120 United, a group that advocates for teachers and public employees in Frankfort.
She’s now filed a lawsuit against Governor Matt Bevin and Department of Labor Secretary David Dickerson, claiming that her First Amendment rights have been violated.
Chris Cooke worked for the Department of Labor in Ashland as a paralegal for a workers’ comp judge. Earlier this month, she said she was suddenly fired.
“I was in shock probably for the first day or so, after that, everything went from shock to anger to sadness,” she said in a press conference.
She said that she wasn’t given a reason, but her lawyers say she was let go just six days after protesting at the Capitol where her name and other information was taken down. They believe that she was fired for her role in Ky 120 United, a group that fights for teachers and public employees.
“Just because you’re a state employee or a teacher does not make you a second class citizen. You still have your First Amendment rights as a U.S citizen. you don’t give that away just because you sign a contract with the state,” said Cooke.
Cooke’s attorney said her firing violates her First Amendment rights, that is why they’re suing both Governor Bevin and Department of Labor Secretary Dickerson.
“Chris is bravely coming forward while public employees and teachers everywhere are truly terrified of the consequences of continuing to speak up, and we hope that Chris can serve, not only as a model, but as a leader and a rallying point for others who feel threatened by the administration,” said Attorney Laura Landenwich.
Bevin’s office has not commented on the lawsuit.