Government

Johnson County supervisors dropped from former employee's lawsuit

Shanti Sellz
Shanti Sellz

IOWA CITY — Current and former members of the Johnson County Board of Supervisors have been dropped from a lawsuit filed by a former employee.

According to federal court documents, supervisors Lisa Green-Douglass, Janelle Rettig and Rod Sullivan have been dropped from a 2018 lawsuit filed by former county employee Shanti Sellz. Former county supervisor Mike Carberry also has been dropped from the lawsuit.

Additionally, Sellz has dropped her claims of discrimination and defamation in the lawsuit. Six counts remain.

Sellz, the county’s former local food and planning coordinator, filed a lawsuit against the county and her boss, Josh Busard, the county’s planning, development and sustainability director.

According to documents filed in the case, Sellz met with Busard on May 17, 2017, to discuss her use of flex time off. Sellz alleges that Busard spoke in a “loud aggressive tone” and lunged at her from across his desk. Busard did not make contact with Sellz, court documents state.

Following the May incident, Sellz began experiencing physical and mental stress, including sleeplessness, nausea and panic attacks at work, according to court documents.

In June 2017, a medical practitioner approved medical leave for Sellz. As her sick leave expired, Sellz sought more time off through the Family Medical Leave Act.

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Sellz had her medical practitioner fill out the paperwork June 13, 2017. Later that day, Sellz received a “pre-termination” letter from Busard for “excessive use of sick leave, and for not using the proper channel to report her sick leave,” according to court documents.

The county responded that Sellz’s termination was unrelated to her Family Medical Leave Act request.

“Sellz’s termination was not related to her untimely request for leave under the Family Medical Leave Act, and the county would have made the same decision about Sellz’s employment regardless of her untimely FMLA request,” according to court documents.

Sellz’s termination was upheld by the Board of Supervisors in an October 2017 meeting.

Sellz’s lawsuit still contains claims of assault, retaliation, violations of due process and violations of the Family Medical Leave Act. She also claims she was a whistleblower. Busard and the county remain named in the lawsuit.

• Comments: (319) 339-3155; lee.hermiston@thegazette.com

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