The former director of Gov. Mary Fallin's office in Tulsa claims the governor and her chief of staff broke state and federal law when they fired her in December.
Wendy Gregory, who directed the Tulsa office since January 2011, filed a lawsuit against Fallin and Denise Northrup in Oklahoma County on Thursday.
In the lawsuit, Gregory claims Northrup asked her to turn in her smartphone and keys two weeks before Christmas after Northrup learned of an IRS garnishment filed against Gregory.
Gregory said Northrup terminated her over the phone, did not give her a chance to explain the situation, and that the garnishment was later cleared.
Tulsa attorney Tony Mareshie, who is representing Gregory, said the garnishment concerned a child custody dispute from a previous marriage.
Alex Weintz, spokesman for Fallin's office, said the office had not been served with the lawsuit. Weintz said he could not comment without reading it first.
Federal law prohibits an employer from firing an employee whose earnings are subject to a single garnishment. Oklahoma statute says an employer cannot fire an employee for a garnishment or like proceeding “arising from a consumer credit sale, consumer lease, or consumer loan” unless it happens more than once within a year's time.
In her lawsuit, Gregory claims the IRS garnishment was her first and only such judgment.
She is seeking actual damages, lost wages and back pay, as well as payment for emotional distress, embarrassment and humiliation. She is also seeking actual and punitive damages against Fallin and Northrup for intentional infliction of emotional distress.
In addition, she is seeking in excess of $20,000 in compensatory and punitive damages against Northrup in an individual tort claim.