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Lawsuits & Litigation

Sharp County Judge, Sheriff Hit with Discrimination Lawsuit

— March 2, 2020

Mark Johnson, Sharp County District Judge, and Sharp County Sheriff Mark Counts were just hit with a lawsuit alleging age discrimination.

It may be hard to believe, but in 2020 we’re still learning of reports of discrimination, even age discrimination. For example, a judge and sheriff in Sharp County, Arkansas were recently hit with a lawsuit filed by Mary Wanley. Wanley worked as a security officer for the county until she was allegedly fired after Mark Johnson, Sharp County District Judge, wanted a “younger security officer who would want to perform lap dances.” The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court Eastern District of Arkansas and also names Sharp County Sheriff Mark Counts as a defendant.

Workplace Discrimination Awareness graphic
Workplace Discrimination; image courtesy of mohamed_hassan via Pixabay,

According to the lawsuit, Wanley was replaced with a new security guard who was “younger and prettier, at least in the eyes of the District Judge, Mark Johnson.” To make matters worse, the suit argues that “Judge Johnson fabricated reasons for her to be fired because he wanted the younger and prettier woman to perform lap dances for him in the office.” The suit argues that Wanley “performed her job satisfactorily, but the district judge simply wanted a younger more attractive individual who would flirt with him.” The suit further states:

“Because of Plaintiff’s age, Johnson, upon information and belief, would not have wanted the Plaintiff [Wanley] to perform lap dances for him. Nonetheless, performing lap dances was not an essential job function.”

Due to the circumstances behind her termination, Wanley claims she was discriminated against on the basis of her age, which happens to be a violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 and Arkansas state law. As a result, she is seeking damages and compensation to cover “lost pay, lost retirement, incurred medical bills, and more.”

So how has the county and plaintiffs responded to the lawsuit? Well, so far Michael Cook, a campaign spokesperson for Johnson, issues the following statement on Johnson’s behalf:

“Mary Wanley’s frivolous lawsuit is full of outright lies. Ms. Wanley was terminated for reasons of fraud and gross maleficence. Ms. Wanley “double-dipped” by claiming to work at different departments at the exact same time and would often show up late for work and/or leave early. For these, and other documented reasons, she was terminated. The documented facts of her poor job performance will be presented in court if this ridiculous lawsuit ever makes it to trial. These last minute veiled attempts to discredit a respected and long-serving Judge are often the tactics of desperate people.”


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