Oklahoma Labor Commissioner settles lawsuit

BY NOLAN CLAY Modified: May 11, 2009 at 1:10 am •  Published: May 11, 2009
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State Labor Commissioner Lloyd Fields settled a federal lawsuit accusing the Democrat official of forcing out a Republican employee because of her political beliefs.

A former Labor Department asbestos official, Laurie Allen, is being paid to drop the civil case. How much was not disclosed.

Allen sued Fields, chief of staff Mannix Barnes and the Labor Department. The trial had been scheduled for this week.

Allen alleged she was targeted because she supported Brenda Reneau, a Republican who was labor commissioner for 12 years.

"I think he acted inappropriately with me in every conversation just about because of my association with Brenda Reneau,” Allen testified in a deposition.

Fields ran against Reneau twice. He lost in 2002 and narrowly won in 2006.

Allen, 43, contributed to Reneau’s 2002 campaign and marched with Reneau in a Yukon parade in 2006.

Fields denied wrongdoing, pointing out in legal filings other Republicans are still employed at the Labor Department.

Fields and Barnes also stated in legal filings they were not aware Allen campaigned for Reneau.

She quit in October 2007 after being told her position was being eliminated because of a grant reduction. Before quitting, she also had been demoted and, at one point, told to transfer from the Oklahoma City office to Tulsa, according to her lawsuit.