Thursday, April 30, 2015

Wheeler lawsuit seeks Circuit Court job back, goes after Quist-Shanks

Two days before Knox County Circuit Court Clerk Cathy Shanks terminated her chief deputy, she sent him a text message, telling him to take some time off because "obviously you need the rest," according to court records.

She then fired him on Friday.

Now, Tim Wheeler, who served as Shanks' second-in-command, has filed a lawsuit in Circuit Court, seeking to keep his job.

In addition, he sent a letter of appeal on Wednesday to Shanks and the county's human resource director, Mark Jones.

Wheeler has asked the court to determine whether he is a county employee or an employee of Shanks, who is an elected official. Shanks oversees a fee office paid for by fines, fees and penalties rather than a traditional county department that is funded with taxpayer dollars.

As a county employee, he would have the right to appeal under the county's personnel ordinance.

Officials in the office have said little about why Shanks fired Wheeler, who has worked for the department since December 2001.

His notice of termination lists "office reorganization" as the reason he was let go.

Circuit Court officials on Wednesday referred questions to the county's law department, which doesn't comment about ongoing litigation.

Wheeler earned almost $82,000 annually.

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