PRINCETON — Gibson County Commissioners are defendants in a federal age discrimination lawsuit filed by former Gibson County Soil and Water Conservation District employee Ann Ice, who accuses the local SWCD board of pushing her out of her 16 1/2-year job in July 2017.

The case was filed in the U.S. Southern District court in Evansville in May. Commissioners were served notice of the suit May 16, according to the court's case history.

The lawsuit is filed against commissioners as the governmental agency responsible for supervision and management of the local SWCD.

Ice alleges in the complaint that she was pushed out of her position at age 63 and into retirement so that her job could be given to a younger person. In the suit, she notes that she was earning 25 vacation days, 12 sick days and six personal days per year at the time of her termination, and in December 2014, had begun experiencing work-related stress and anxiety. The complaint alleges that when the local SWCD board reorganized in 2015, SWCD supervisors began trying to push her out of her position and into retirement.

The lawsuit alleges that Ice and her husband were told in 2015 and 2016 that the board wanted to push her into retirement so the agency would have money to hire/promote a younger person working with her.

The complaint alleges a series of changes and restrictions in her employment during her last two years of employment that made it difficult for her to use her accumulated paid time off and also alleges that county commissioners ignored her attempts to join the union which represents county employees.

According to the lawsuit, Ice experienced a medical episode in January 2017 that stemmed from work-related stress and anxiety, and she filed a discrimination complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The 90-day time-frame to file suit over the discrimination complaint expired June 17, 2017, and on June 13, 2017, according the federal lawsuit, the SWCD presented her with notice of a change in her work hours. The complaint says that Ice signed the notice that day and informed her supervisor she would have all of her time accounted for in the current pay period under the new work hours established in the notice, and she would not be working the rest of the week since her hours were already accounted for.

She alleged in the lawsuit that she was notified when she went to work on June 27, 2017 that she was being suspended for three days for not reporting to work for three days following June 13, and her employment was terminated on July 28, 2017.

The termination came, according to the lawsuit, after Ice requested Family Medical Leave Act paperwork from the Gibson County Auditor's office. The complaint says she returned the paperwork to the Gibson County Auditor's office July 18, but the request was not put on the agenda for approval for Gibson County Commissioners when they met the evening of July 18.

The lawsuit seeks $228,110.40 in lost salary from age 63 to age 70, some $16,188.48 in lost sick pay, plus loss of growth in her retirement accounts and employer contribution to the Public Employee Retirement Fund, as well as compensation for the cost of buying health insurance until reaching age 70. It also seeks attorney fees and costs.

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