Lawyer Talks About Why She Brought Whistleblower Suit Against AG's Office
The most colorful excerpt of the complaint claims that at one point James Jones, then a supervising attorney in the office's child support division, ordered Weatherspoon to appear at the OAG's administrative office to sign an affidavit against Hanschen and yelled at her when she refused. "During his tirade, he shouted that the Attorney General himself, Greg Abbott, was 'waiting on Plaintiff's affidavit,'" alleges the lawsuit. "Next, Jones ordered Weatherspoon into an adjacent room and told her she could not leave until she completed the statement against Hanschen." Jones and another supervisor, Harry Monck, were later demoted to offices in Fort Worth and Plano, respectively.
Weatherspoon tells Unfair Park that one of the first signs of retaliation came when supervisors ignored her doctor's orders that she be on light duty due to a herniated disc in the months after she reported to her superiors alleged misconduct by Monck and Jones.
"I wasn't supposed to stand before the bench for longer than an hour," Weatherspoon says. "But by August they had me doing the same thing as before -- standing at the bench for seven to eight straight hours even though the doctor had never released me to regular duty." By the fall, she says, her herniated disc had grown so painful that doctors scheduled a December surgery and she requested medical leave.
On November 10, she says, she was called in to speak with Karen Young, the senior regional attorney who had replaced Jones.
"Your services are no longer needed by the Office of the Attorney General," Weatherspoon says she was told. The supervisor gave her a letter indicating that Weatherspoon had provided "poor customer service." Weatherspoon questions that assertion.
"I was worried I would be fired [for refusing to sign the affidavit against Hanschen and making the report against Monck and Jones], so I tried to make sure I did everything correctly," she says. "I was never reprimanded, never written up."
Jerry Strickland, communications director for the OAG, denies that Weatherspoon's firing had anything to do with her report or the February dust-up over Judge Hanschen.
"Attorneys in our Dallas-area offices expressed concerns about certain judges' courtroom conduct and perceived bias against the Child Support Division and the Child Support collection process," he tells Unfair Park in an e-mail statement. "Our office reviewed the matter but took no further action. The dismissal of this employee is wholly unrelated to any of those incidents and was precipitated by facts separate from anything to do with that review."
Weatherspoon says she appealed her firing and was denied her request to go back to work in April.
"I've been going through the administrative appeal process," she says, "They came out with their decision on April 21, and I had 30 days to file a lawsuit."
Aside from actual damages and compensation for lost wages, promotions and merit pay increases, plus reinstatement, what does she hope to gain from the lawsuit?
"I want people to know what they did to me," Weatherspoon says, "And I hope that they don't do that to somebody else."