CHARLESTON — A Lincoln County magistrate has been accused of forcing a former office assistant to work on her re-election campaign during work hours, according to a complaint filed in Kanawha County Circuit Court.
Former magistrate assistant Heather Lucas filed the complaint against Magistrate Kim Lovejoy Clayton. The state Supreme Court, as an employer, also was named as a defendant.
According to the complaint, Clayton allegedly requested Lucas perform work on Clayton’s campaign by doing things such as addressing flyers during her normal working hours. Lucas said in the complaint that she initially refused to perform the duties, but that Clayton was “threatening her position of employment.”
“However, upon such refusal [Lucas] was told by Magistrate Clayton that ‘Your job is to work for me,’” the complaint stated. “’Be quiet, do your job, shut your mouth or you will be fired.’”
According to the complaint, Lucas was also told by Clayton’s husband to “do what she tells you to do.”
Lucas alleged in the complaint that she was asked to hide the campaign work being done at her desk anytime someone came to her door so no one would see what she was doing.
Lucas also alleged Clayton’s requests extended past her time on the clock, as she also reports Clayton demanded her to place a sign in her yard and a magnet on her car advertising the campaign. Lucas claimed Clayton knew she did not hold the same political ideals as Clayton, but was allegedly told “if you want to keep your job you better vote for me.”
The complaint also noted that Lucas was contacted by an investigator with the state who was looking into allegations of election fraud and other things against Clayton. According to the complaint, Clayton learned Lucas had spoken with investigators.
“Defendant Clayton then told [Lucas], ‘Loyalty is everything,’” the complaint stated. “’If I ever found out you were not loyal, I would destroy you.’”
Lucas was fired on January 4, but she claims she had “performed her duties in a satisfactory manner and met the reasonable expectations” of the position she held as a magistrate assistant.
Lucas accused Clayton of discharge in violation of public policy, violation of constitutional rights and violation of whistleblower law. She claims she suffered lost wages and benefits in addition to indignity, embarrassment, humiliation, emotional distress, annoyance and inconvenience.
In the complaint, Lucas is seeking compensatory damages, pre-judgment interest, attorney fees, court costs and other relief.
In her answer, Clayton denied the allegations and sought to have the case dismissed. In a partial motion to dismiss and supporting memorandum of law, Clayton asked to at least have the count alleging a constitutional violation dismissed by stating Lucas had no right to use that claim.
“Count II of the complaint should be dismissed for the basic fact that there are no factual allegations contained in the complaint that, if proven, would demonstrate a violation,” the motion stated.
Clayton has served as a magistrate since 2016. She was sworn in for her second four-year term in December 2020. Before becoming magistrate, she was a long-time educator and coach in Lincoln County Schools.