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Published: Thursday, 4/20/2006

Fulton County MRDD sued by ex-employee

WAUSEON - Another former Fulton County Board of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities employee is suing the disabilities board and one of its former superintendents, alleging wrongful termination.

Laura Kutzli, who was a union negotiating committee member, filed suit against the board and its former superintendent, Dan Pfahl, in Fulton County Common Pleas Court on Monday.

She says in the suit that she noticed in 2004 - after allegations that Mr. Pfahl discriminated against a homosexual employee, in part, because of that employee's sexual orientation - that the union contract had been altered, dropping a provision regarding harassment of employees based on sexual orientation.

The day after Ms. Kutzli raised those concerns, Mr. Pfahl placed her on unpaid suspension, saying she had verbally and physically abused a client, according to the suit. The suit goes on to say Ms. Kutzli, who worked for the disabilities board four years, was denied a full accounting of the board's claims against her before she was required to meet with an investigation panel.

Another former employee, Joe Borton, who filed suit against the board last fall, says in it he was wrongfully terminated, in part, because he reported Ms. Kutzli's abuse of a disabled client.

Mr. Borton, a longtime Dover Township trustee in Fulton County, says in his suit he saw Ms. Kutzli repeatedly tell a disabled woman "to shut up, and frequently kicked her wheelchair, sending her into startle seizures" in September, 2004.

Current disabilities Superintendent Brenda Oyer said she would refer Ms. Kutzli's case, which asks for more than $25,000 in damages, to the county prosecutor. Mr. Borton's case is awaiting trial.

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