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Judge dismisses whistleblower complaint involving Louisville mayor’s wife

Group of people behind a woman and man standing at a podium with a green and white sign that says "Greenberg For Mayor"
Jacob Munoz
Louisville Mayor Craig Greenberg, center, speaking to supporters at an election night party alongside his wife Rachel, left, on May 17, 2022.

On Wednesday, Judge Tracy Davis threw out the whistleblower lawsuit filed against Louisville Metro.

A former city employee of the Louisville Mayor’s Office is expected to appeal a ruling by a Jefferson County Circuit Court judge dismissing her whistleblower lawsuit.

Samantha Ricketts, a former graphic specialist, filed the lawsuit against Louisville Metro in February, claiming she was fired in retaliation for expressing concerns about the role Mayor Craig Greenberg’s wife had taken in his administration.

Ricketts said she was terminated shortly after telling a supervisor she thought Rachel Greenberg’s involvement was a potential violation of the city’s Ethics Code. The Metro Ethics Commission is currently reviewing a separate complaint that makes similar allegations.

In dismissing the lawsuit Wednesday, Jefferson County Circuit Court Judge Tracy Davis said Ricketts failed to state a claim under the Kentucky Whistleblower Act because she didn’t “make a good faith disclosure of a suspected ethics violation to an appropriate authority,” which the act requires.

“What is not alleged in Plaintiff’s Verified Complaint … is that Ms. Ricketts ever made any ethics complaint against the First Lady,” Davis wrote. “Indeed, the only reference made to a formal ethics complaint regarding the First Lady is to a complaint filed by an unrelated third-party, Malcomb Haming.”

Davis seemed to argue that Ricketts expressing concerns to her direct supervisor didn’t constitute a disclosure to “an appropriate authority.” The judge also noted Haming’s complaint to the city’s Ethics Commission was filed after Ricketts had already left Metro Government.

Ricketts’ attorney Thomas Clay said they disagree with the judge’s decision and plan to appeal the dismissal to the Kentucky Court of Appeals.

Mayor Craig Greenberg issued a statement Wednesday afternoon, reiterating his view that Louisville is lucky to have a First Lady “who is committed to making an impact by volunteering with schools, children and families throughout Louisville.”

“The allegations made by former employee Sam Ricketts had no legal merit and the Court clearly saw that and quickly dismissed the case,” Greenberg said.

In a timeline included with the lawsuit, Ricketts alleged Greenberg’s wife frequently gave her orders to design items including stationery, business cards and a new city seal. Ricketts detailed meetings she said were held in Rachel Greenberg’s office and said she “gives me orders as if I work directly for her.”

This dispute over whether Rachel Greenberg directly supervised and ordered city employees in her work for the Louisville Mayor’s Office is at the heart of the pending ethics case. Greenberg has maintained that his wife serves strictly in a “volunteer role.”

Davis wrote in her dismissal order that the concerns Ricketts outlined in her timeline “are best characterized as personal complaints over job-related activities and disagreements with management,” rather than violations of state law or the local ethics ordinance.

The Ethics Commission is expected to rule this week on Greenberg’s motion to dismiss the complaint they received.

Roberto Roldan is the City Politics and Government Reporter for WFPL. Email Roberto at rroldan@lpm.org.

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