Posted at: 11/01/2013 6:38 PM
By: Ryan Luby, KOB Eyewitness News 4
A now-former assistant librarian claims the mayor fired her after she witnessed two town employees having sex in the children’s section of the Estancia Public Library.
“Right in the middle of the library, in front of God and everybody,” attorney Joseph CampBell said. He’s representing Jaime Kurz who was terminated last week.
CampBell said Kurz arrived at the library just before it opened on August 20th. He said she heard noises, set down her bags, and quickly discovered the employees having sexual intercourse.
Later that day, he said Kurz contacted Julie Carter, who was the town clerk at the time, to report what she witnessed. CampBell said Carter then contacted Mayor Sylvia Chavez.
In early October, CampBell said Kurz wrote a letter to the mayor requesting time off to avoid a “hostile work situation.” The mayor signed the letter, he said.
A few days later, CampBell said Kurz and Carter both learned that they would lose their jobs.
The town terminated Carter’s employment two weeks ago.
“They’re two outsiders, non-locals,” he said. “You know, they stumbled upon and kicked up a hornets nest.”
KOB Eyewitness News 4 attempted to contact Mayor Chavez in-person on Friday, but learned that she was out of town.
In a phone conversation with Catherine Robinson, the city’s attorney, Robinson said Kurz and Carter were not terminated for reporting the alleged sex act, but said she could not elaborate since it was a personnel matter.
Robinson confirmed that the sex allegations were addressed and dealt with after they were reported.
A KOB Eyewitness News 4 crew found one of the accused employees at work on Friday.
In a letter from Mayor Chavez to Kurz dated October 10th, Mayor Chavez told Kurz that she was being terminated for failing to turn over keys to the library when asked and for failing to meet with the mayor to discuss the hostile work claims.
CampBell said the city’s arguments don’t hold water.
“Yeah, it’s like a sieve,” he said.
Although Kurz and Carter were at-will employees, meaning they could be terminated for no reason at any time, CampBell said they fall in a protected class under the Whistleblower Protection Act since they reported misconduct or inappropriate behavior.
CampBell said he plans to file a lawsuit against the city in the next several months on Kurz’s behalf.
Gary Mitchell, the attorney for Julie Carter, also said he’d do the same.