Ex-Lenoir City Codes Officer Contends Speaking out Cost Her Job

News Sentinel, June 23, 2013 | Go to article overview

Ex-Lenoir City Codes Officer Contends Speaking out Cost Her Job


A former Lenoir City codes enforcement officer has filed a federal lawsuit alleging she was dismissed after speaking out against safety and health code violations at the new city hall.

Leslie Johnson alleges she was fired from her position as codes officer earlier this year after trying to bring attention to compliance issues at the old SunTrust Bank building that was being remodeled into a new city hall.

Lenoir City Mayor Tony Aikens, Public Safety Director Don White and City Administrator Dale Hurst are named as defendants in the lawsuit that was filed last week in federal court in Knoxville.

The suit alleges Johnson was terminated "solely because she exercised her constitutional and statutory rights and refused to participate in or remain silent about conduct that violated, or that she reasonably believed violated, laws, regulations, or rules intended to protect the public health, safety or welfare."

According to the lawsuit, "Defendants allegedly discharged Ms. Johnson because she allegedly engaged in insubordination, neglect of duty, and violation of city policy and abuse of city equipment."

Aikens said he could not respond to the specific allegations because of the pending litigation.

"She wanted to file a lawsuit. The truth will prevail," the mayor said.

Others named in the lawsuit could not be reached for comment.

The lawsuit alleges that Johnson was qualified for her job and received outstanding performance reviews and never received any disciplinary action before being suspended on Jan. …

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