A former bailiff has accused Judge Gary Cook in a lawsuit of wrongfully terminating the job she had in Lucas County Common Pleas Court while she was on medical leave.
Colleen Cimerman of Temperance filed the complaint in U.S. District Court in Toledo against Judge Cook, both individually and in his capacity as her employer, accusing him of violating the federal Family and Medical Leave Act.
The lawsuit alleges she was fired from her position as criminal bailiff in the judge's courtroom after her return in January, 2011, from an approved medical leave that began in December, 2010, for "anxiety and depression."
It further states that when she returned to work at the courthouse with her doctor's approval, Judge Cook "lambasted" her for work that he felt was not done before and during the leave, and at a later meeting the judge accused her of not opening mail received during her leave and failing to process court documents.
Judge Cook wouldn't comment and said he didn't know the complaint had been filed.
Mrs. Cimerman was a court employee since 1999 and was assigned to work for Judge Cook in 2004 after he was elected. She was fired Feb. 11, 2011.
The federal law allows employees to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave to care for a sick family member, a newborn or adopted child, or to recover from a worker's own serious illness. The law requires employers to allow a worker who takes the leave to return to their position with the same pay, benefits, and conditions and employment.
Assigned to Judge Jack Zouhary, the complaint is requesting that Mrs. Cimerman be given back pay and benefits and "further relief as may be just and equitable."
Common Pleas Judge Stacy Cook, who is married to Judge Cook, was named as a defendant in a wrongful termination lawsuit on the FMLA statute filed in 2011 in Toledo federal court.
Joanne Horen, who was a staff attorney for Judge Stacy Cook, claims she was terminated from her position in common pleas in December, 2009, in retaliation for taking a two-month FMLA absence from her job earlier that year.
Mrs. Horen, who worked for the court since 1996, was involved in extensive litigation against the Toledo Public Schools Board of Education regarding the special educational needs of her daughter, the complaint said. Ms. Horen alleged in the complaint that she was pressured by Judge Stacy Cook to resolve the cases.
Mrs. Horen of Toledo is asking for back pay and more than $1 million in compensatory and punitive damages.
Judge James Carr dismissed the county as a defendant in the complaint last December and has scheduled the case for jury trial Dec. 11.
Contact Mark Reiter at: email@example.com or 419-724-6199.