Kentucky Attorney General Accused of Sex Discrimination

FRANKFORT, Ky. (CN) – A former attorney for Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear claims in court that she was fired after she raised concerns about discriminatory pay-raise policies.

Lainie Kaiser, a former assistant attorney general, says she was told by her supervisors earlier this year that “budgetary issues” prevented raises for anyone in the department, but later found out that male employees were given raises.

When she questioned the Beshear’s policy of giving raises only to male employees, Kaiser “had a male employee assigned to … some of her ongoing workload, but [whose actual purpose] was monitoring her work behavior,” according to a Nov. 16 lawsuit she filed against the AG in Franklin County Circuit Court.

“On or about August 10, 2016, plaintiff had a long discussion with the AG’s Human Resources office representative and reported her concerns with the current workload, work stress, and the preferential treatment towards men over women in raises and work assignments occurring in the AG’s office. Plaintiff further reported a complaint about a male colleague making condescending and sexist remarks to her while working,” the complaint states.

Kaiser says she was fired eight days later, and “learned that she was one of three potential female employees relieved of employment by the executive director during this time who had been vocal about possible policy and legal violations that were occurring in the AG’s office.”

The lawsuit says Kaiser had years of experience at private firms before accepting a position with former Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway, and also “had an important role … in the ‘Purdue Pharma’ oxy-contin [sic] litigation, which resulted in a $24 million settlement in favor of the Commonwealth’s citizens.”

Kaiser seeks compensatory and punitive damages for alleged violations of Kentucky’s Whistleblower Statute and sex discrimination.

When asked about the allegations, the attorney general’s office responded by saying, “Attorney General Beshear’s office is the most diverse in recent memory with a majority of leadership positions held by women and minorities. The office embraces diversity and does not tolerate sexism in any form. The former employee was the second highest paid non-merit lawyer in their division. The allegations in the complaint are untrue and will be disproven in court.”

The media relations office also provided a copy of Kaiser’s resignation letter, which includes the following passage: “I am grateful for the opportunity to have served the Commonwealth of Kentucky … If the Attorney General would like to use me as a resource for future cases, I would welcome the opportunity to serve as a consultant.”

But Kaiser’s attorney, Shane Sidebottom of Ziegler and Schneider in Covington, Ky., said his client did not resign.

“My client did submit a resignation, but only after she was handed a letter telling her that her services were no longer needed effective immediately,” Sidebottom said. “Just because she was given a professional courtesy by allowing  her to submit a resignation letter, doesn’t change the fact that her employment was terminated involuntarily.”

Sidebottom also said in an interview, “[Kaiser’s] release from employment for honestly reporting what she believed to be valid concerns about ethical and legal violations is shameful.”