Ex-WORTH Center employee files wrongful termination lawsuit

First Posted: 3/24/2014

LIMA — A former employee of a prison alternative program is suing her former employer, saying she was wrongly terminated.

Misti Harlow, of Bluffton, filed the lawsuit this month in Allen County Common Pleas Court, seeking more than $25,000 in damages. She also is seeking damages for loss of income, benefits and retirement service credit.

Harlow names as defendants her former employer, the Western Ohio Regional Treatment and Habilitation Center, the facility’s governing board and the executive director of the facility, Mark Fuerstenau.

Harlow alleged she was wrongfully fired and retaliated against for being one of the employees who sent an anonymous letter to the Facilities Governing Board alleging misconduct by Fuerstenau and other members of the management staff.

The letter alleged violations of center policies, racial slurs, inappropriate comments, misappropriation of funds, sexual harassment and a hostile work environment.

Harlow was fired Jan. 24. She had worked at the WORTH Center since June 15, 2009, as a case manager. She said in the lawsuit she had good performance evaluations.

On Dec. 4, Harlow was informed she was the subject of a pending investigation into allegations of professional misconduct, the lawsuit said.

In a letter terminating Harlow, Fuerstenau said she had an inappropriate personal relationship with ex-residents and brought her cell phone into the security perimeter. She then made a false statement saying she got authorization from Fuerstenau to engage in such behavior, according to the letter.

Fuerstenau’s letter told Harlow she would be fired for a dishonest answer and told her she was terminated.

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