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Fighting Back Against the ReThugs Who Cheated Me Out of My Job

By       Message Roger Shuler     Permalink
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Cross Posted at Legal Schnauzer

We recently posted about our experiences with adult bullies and noted that the bullying phenomenon, so much in the news recently, does not end with youth.

So what is a victim to do? Well, the only recourse we know of is to fight back. And that's exactly what my wife and I are doing.

Regular readers know that I was unlawfully terminated from my job at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB). Much the same thing happened to Mrs. Schnauzer at Infinity Property and Casualty. And we had the full rights to our house unlawfully auctioned by the sheriff's office in Shelby County, Alabama. We officially have begun to fight back in federal court.

I recently filed a lawsuit against the University of Alabama Board of Trustees (the legal entity over UAB) and various individuals in connection with my unlawful termination. (See the complaint at the end of this post.)

My wife and I have filed a lawsuit against Shelby County Sheriff Chris Curry and other individuals involved in the unlawful auction of our house. We will be reporting about the basics of that case, and publishing the complaint, shortly.

Evidence strongly suggests that unlawful actions in both cases were driven, at least in part, by individuals connected to Republican Party politics.

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Both lawsuits were filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama. Defendants have been served, and the early phases of both cases are under way. We will be reporting on both cases, in real time, here at Legal Schnauzer. (My wife's case against Infinity is being investigated by the EEOC, and we will move forward once that phase is completed.)

Our reporting on these cases will be different from what you find in mainstream news outlets. I know from 11 years in the newspaper business, that reporters who cover courts often regurgitate what judges, lawyers, and clerk's offices feed them. Reporters almost never ask the following questions: Are the judges and the lawyers handling this case in a lawful manner? Are the parties acting in a truthful manner?

We will be asking those questions, and providing answers, as the cases unfold. It's another example of how the Web has changed the world of journalism. Such reporting would not have been possible a few years back. With the advent of blogs, it very much is possible now.

What is the gist of my lawsuit against the University of Alabama? The No. 1 allegation is that the university fired me because of the content on my blog about matters of public concern. This constitutes a First Amendment violation, encompassing retaliation and wrongful termination. UAB certainly will contest this, but the truth is not in doubt. From the complaint:

One of the university's own employees, Anita Bonasera, stated in a tape-recorded conversation that plaintiff was targeted for investigation and ultimately termination because of his blog content about the Don Siegelman case.

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We have published key segments of this audiotape before, and you can check it out again. I tape recorded the conversation with Bonasera, who is UAB's director of employee relations, after she and my former supervisor, Pam Powell, placed me on administrative leave. A link to the three-minute segment is below. For about the first 1:40, Bonasera and I discuss the nature of my job duties. At about 1:50, she admits my job issues are related to my blog. And at roughly the 2:08 mark, she admits I was targeted because of the Siegelman content on my blog.

A key point: Bonasera states that Powell had met with university IT personnel to examine how I had used my computer at work. I was the only person in our department who was subjected to this kind of investigation--and it revealed, as came out in my grievance hearing, that I had never written the first word of my blog on UAB equipment or time. Powell apparently designated certain items from my computer usage as "non-work related activity." Bonasera reveals this to me in a conversation that took place roughly two weeks after I had filed an official grievance against Powell in UAB human resources and had complained to Powell's superior, associate vice president Dale Turnbough, about ongoing age discrimination.

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I live in Birmingham, Alabama, and work in higher education. I became interested in justice-related issues after experiencing gross judicial corruption in Alabama state courts. This corruption has a strong political component. The corrupt judges are (more...)

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