A former attorney in Attorney General Andy Beshear’s office has sued him for sex discrimination and recrimination under the state whistleblower law for reporting management issues.
Laine Kaiser was hired by former Attorney General Jack Conway after many years working in private law firms, according to the lawsuit filed in Franklin Circuit Court. Because of her expertise in electronic discovery, she worked on the state’s litigation against Purdue Pharma over OxyContin distribution, a lawsuit that resulted in a $24 million settlement for Kentucky.
This past April, Kaiser asked about the possibility of a raise, the lawsuit says, but she was told there was no money budgeted. In July, Kaiser asked her supervisor why male attorneys were given raises or new job positions, while women were denied any raises. The lawsuit alleges that after this conversation, Kaiser’s work was overseen by a male employee. On Aug. 10, the lawsuit says, she reported her concerns to the attorney general’s human resources department, and on Aug. 18, she was told her services were no longer needed.
The lawsuit says Kaiser later learned that she was one of three female employees who had been vocal about problems in the attorney general’s office who also were let go. Those employees are not identified, but longtime assistant attorney general Amye Bensenhaver stepped down in September “under considerable duress.” Bensenhaver, an expert on the state’s open records and open-meetings laws, had been rebuked for talking to a journalist about the 40th anniversary of those laws.
Kaiser is asking for punitive and compensatory damages.
Deputy Attorney General J. Michael Brown said the allegations are “untrue and will be disproven in court.”
“Attorney General Beshear’s office is the most diverse in recent memory, with a majority of leadership positions held by women and minorities,” Brown said. “The office embraces diversity and does not tolerate sexism in any form. The former employee was the second-highest-paid non-merit lawyer in that division.”
Kaiser made $63,630 a year.
The attorney general’s office also produced Kaiser’s resignation letter, in which she said she was “grateful for the opportunity to have served” and welcomed the chance to be a resource in future cases as a consultant.
Kaiser’s attorney, Shane Sidebottom, said that while Kaiser did submit a resignation letter, it was only after she was informed she would be terminated. “As a courtesy, they allowed her to resign publicly,” Sidebottom said.