LEHIGH — A Coal County man says in a lawsuit that he was fired from his county job because of comments his wife made about a county commissioner on Facebook.
“Her opinion's her opinion. It doesn't have anything to do with me,” Jess English said Thursday.
The lawsuit was filed in December in U.S. District Court in Muskogee against the Coal County board and District 3 Commissioner Michael Hensley.
In its response, the county said English “voluntarily quit his employment with Coal County.”
English, 35, said he had a job doing maintenance in District 3 when Lehigh's mayor “hit me up if I wanted to work running a backhoe for the city” on weekends.
Soon after, Mayor Buddy Cottrell told English he couldn't work for the city anymore, English said.
He said Cottrell told him Hensley wanted his own son to have the weekend work.
English said he came home and told his wife the story. This was near the end of last April.
“I told her the deal and never thought more about it,” he said.
According to English, the next thing he knew he was getting a telephone call from his foreman at District 3, Colin Heathcock.
English said Heathcock told him, “Your wife is on Facebook and saying the next person that runs for commissioner, she would vote for them.”
“I had no idea that anything was even said,” English said. “I said, ‘Colin, I don't know what you're talking about.'”
According to the lawsuit, English arrived for work at the District 3 shop on or about May 1 and was told not to clock in.
The lawsuit says Heathcock, after a telephone conversation with Hensley, then fired English.
“He sent me down the road. He fired me right there,” English said Thursday.
English said he filed for unemployment and was denied. The state said he'd quit.
“That's what topped it off,” he said.
English said he appealed, won a favorable ruling and collected about $14,000 in unemployment last year.
He also went to see Ada attorney Preston Draper.
Draper says in the lawsuit that English was fired because Misty English “exercised her First Amendment right to speak on a political issue.”
“It's a pretty straightforward claim,” Draper said Thursday.
Draper is seeking compensatory damages in excess of $10,000 and punitive damages against Hensley, also in excess of $10,000.
The case has been assigned to a judge but further proceedings could be months in the future, Draper said.