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EMT Says Termination Is Due to Ex-Cop Husband

TELLICO PLAINS, Tenn. -- The wife of the former Tellico Plains police chief is suing Monroe County, Monroe County Emergency Medical Services and its director, claiming her termination as a county employee was motivated by political reasons.

According to a suit filed in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee, Marie Anne Isbell was let go from her job as an EMT technician because her husband, William Isbell, ran against her former boss for sheriff in 2010.

Marie Isbell, according to the eight-page civil suit, was employed by Monroe County EMS from January 2007 through Aug. 31, 2010. Monroe County Emergency Medical Services Director Randy White was appointed as the county EMS director Sept. 1, 2010.

Prior to Sept. 1, 2010, the county mayorelect, Tim Yates, told county employees to submit a resume if interested in remaining employed, the suit states.

Isbell submitted a resume and was then interviewed by the mayor and White on Aug. 30, 2010. The next day, the suit alleges, White alerted her via letter he was unable to extend her an offer of employment.

Both White and Isbell's husband sought the 2010 Republican nomination for Monroe County sheriff, the suit continues. White prevailed but lost in the general election to Sheriff Bill Bivens.

"The plaintiff submits that her termination was in retaliation of the plaintiff's open political support of her husband outside work hours and of the political actions of her husband," the suit reads.

Attorney Beecher Bartlett, one of two attorneys who represent Isbell, said the case is slated for trial Feb. 27.

Arthur F. Knight III, who represents the defendants, said attorneys in the case could not comment, citing a local U.S. District Court rule that limits what they can say about their pending case.

According to a court-filed response from Knight, his clients deny Isbell's political beliefs were taken into account "in either the performance of her position, or defendants reassembling of the Monroe County Emergency Medical Services Department."

The suit, which claims her First Amendment rights were violated, seeks compensatory damages, lost wages and benefits, and court costs, among other things.



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