ST. LOUIS — An elected circuit county court clerk and his assistant have been denied immunity after allegedly mistreating colleagues who ran a political campaign against them, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit ruled on Jan. 8.
Michael Reuter, who is the elected clerk of the Circuit Court of Jefferson County, and his subordinate Christy Scrivner were sued by the chief deputy clerk, Jeanette McKee, who ran against Reuter in the 2014 election.
McKee later resigned, saying Scrivner and Reuter created a hostile work environment after McKee accused Reuter of domestic violence on the campaign trail.
Sharon Rebecca Hickman, who was a deputy clerk and backed McKee during her 2014 campaign, also resigned, saying she likewise suffered in a hostile work environment.
McKee and Hickman filed a complaint against Reuter, his wife, Scrivner and Teresa Cusick, who was McKee’s supervisor and also allegedly played a part in the work culture and environment, saying their First Amendment rights were violated.
Although the district court dismissed several claims, the court also denied qualified immunity for Reuter and Scrivner.
On appeal, the appeals court said McKee had provided enough proof for a jury to determine that her political stance in the 2014 campaign played a part in how Reuter interacted with her post-election.
Reuter made her move her office to a cubicle and replaced her with Scrivner, who purportedly lacked qualifications.
Regarding immunity, the court said “his office did not give him license to violate clearly established constitutional rights.”
As for McKee’s allegations against Scrivner, the court reiterated that McKee had done enough to prove she suffered actions from Scrivner and Reuter.
The lower court’s ruling that denied immunity was affirmed.