Ex-Staffer Sues County

Former Yankton County employee Denise Wubben has filed suit against Yankton County and recently elected county commissioner Dan Klimisch in his individual capacity.

Documents were filed with the U.S. District Court for the District of South Dakota Southern Division on June 27.

In the Complaint and Demand Trial by Jury, Wubben, the former county deputy zoning administrator alleges that her February termination was done without due process of law and in violation of county policy.

According to Wubben, she had been employed by the county since July 1, 2013, was promoted to county deputy zoning administrator in April of 2018 and her yearly performance reviews were excellent.

Wubben states that she and County Zoning Administrator Pat Garrity were charged with assisting citizens with applications for conditional use permits — including conditional use permits for CAFOs (Concentrated Animals Feeding Operations).

Wubben alleges that in a meeting with Klimisch, Wubben and County Commissioner Joe Healy, Garrity was disciplined incorrectly by Klimisch and by extension the county and that she was fired for objecting to it. Wubben alleges that her treatment was completely inconsistent with the disciplinary procedure spelled out in the Yankton County Employee manual.

Wubben said that when attending a county meeting and questioned by a citizen on her directive to help with conditional use permits, she was denied the right to speak by Klimisch and was threatened with forcible removal from the meeting.

Wubben was then terminated during a special session of the Yankton County Commission on Friday, Feb. 22. However, the vote to terminate was taken during the executive session on the advice of deputy state’s attorney Erich Johnke. This was a violation of open meetings law and a second meeting was set for the following Monday to readdress the issue, hold another executive session and take the vote in public.

According to the complaint, Wubben first learned of her termination through the Press & Dakotan and did not receive official confirmation from a county official until a letter signed by State’s Attorney Rob Klimisch arrived on Feb. 28, three days after the follow-up executive session.  

She is asking for damages, attorney fees and costs from the defendants.

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