Dennis Byers, Greg Smartt, Leslie Brent King, and Clarence T. Birdwell, plaintiffs in a wrongful firing lawsuit against Grundy County Road Supervisor Dwayne “Turkey” Hargis, have prevailed in their case. The men, employees of the Grundy County Highway Department at the time of their firing, will receive $200,000 in damages based on the humiliation and embarrassment incurred as a result of the actions of Turkey Hargis.
Byers, King, and Birdwell were fired by Hargis for not supporting him in the May 6 county election. When they arrived at work on May 7, 2104, the morning after the election, Hargis told them they no longer had jobs with the department. Smartt had left his position several months earlier after Hargis accused him of “electioneering” for another candidate.
“My clients had worked for the Grundy County Highway Department for many years – some for 11-12 years, some for 8-9 years, some for 21-22 years, and one for four years. After years of work, for their job to be taken away because they exercised their right of freedom of speech and their right to vote in any manner they chose, and to support the candidate of their choosing, is wrong,” Attorney Mike Galligan told the Herald on May 4.
“This settlement indemnifies my clients for the embarrassment and humiliation of having their jobs so unceremoniously taken away.”
Hargis, Hargis in his role as road supervisor, the Grundy County Highway Department, and Grundy County were named in the suit.