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Ex-shelter workers says concerns led to her wrongful termination

People who have a love for animals will sometimes gravitate toward working in shelters to care for their four-legged friends. However, when there are disagreements over how an establishment should be run, problems can arise that workers in Indiana and elsewhere may not expect. A power struggle over an animal shelter allegedly caused a 19-year veteran clerical worker to lose her job. The woman claims the reason for her wrongful termination was because she helped the New Jersey SPCA file criminal charges against the former director. The ex-director was arrested for animal cruelty, and a superior court ordered that the shelter was to be controlled by a state group for six months.

After that time period elapsed, a permanent shelter manager was hired, and the Humane Society Management Services assisted the shelter. The ex-director allegedly began to appear at the shelter several times each week, trying to undermine the management. According to the complaint, she had the mail redirected to her own address, which did not allow the plaintiff to perform part of her duties. The ex-director is also being accused of retaining checks instead of giving them to the plaintiff to deposit.

The board of directors later announced that HSMS would no longer be utilized, and a shelter worker would become the manager. The ex-director began coming to the shelter more frequently and giving orders as if she were still in charge. The plaintiff complained in writing to the NJSPCA and also alerted the prosecutor's office. The new shelter manager eventually could no longer tolerate the former director and quit.

The criminal charges against the former director would have been dropped if she had relinquished all control of the animal shelter, as well as met the other conditions, but the plaintiff said that she ignored the directions she was given. According to the plaintiff, she was suspended and then fired with no reason. She eventually was given a list of complaints that had never been discussed previously, and she had not been given prior disciplinary action. She believes that her wrongful termination was the result of retaliation for reporting the ex-director. Indiana workers in situations similar to this one may be awarded lost wages and monetary damages, as well as possibly be reinstated, if it is warranted.

Source:, "Hunterdon Humane shelter worker fired in retaliation, lawsuit says", Lillian Shupe, May 20, 2015

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