LITTLE ROCK (AP) — The former staff attorney for the Arkansas Lottery Commission has filed a federal civil rights lawsuit, accusing the panel of forcing her out of her job and violating her First Amendment rights.
Bridgette Frazier filed the lawsuit Thursday in federal court against the Arkansas Lottery Commission, executive director Ernie Passailaigue and operations vice president Ernestine Middleton.
Frazier, a former lawyer for the House of Representatives, claims in the lawsuit that she was forced out because she’d expressed concerns about lottery personnel practices to the attorney general’s office.
The commission announced last year that Frazier had resigned after a dispute over whether lottery employees are entitled to merit pay raises. Frazier’s suit said that she was escorted out of the office by lottery security officers after she was told she could either resign or be fired.
Frazier "was deliberately subjected to, and has suffered severe mental and emotional distress, lost wages, lost fringe benefits, lost earning capacity and loss of professional reputation," the lawsuit said.
Julie Baldridge, a spokeswoman for the lottery commission, declined to comment Friday on the suit.
Frazier is asking a judge to issue an injunction allowing her to get her job back. She’s also seeking $500,000 in compensatory damages, as well as an unnamed amount in punitive damages. The case has been assigned to U.S. District Judge Susan Webber Wright, though no hearing has been set.
Arkansas’ lottery, which funds college scholarships, was approved by voters in 2008. Last year, the Legislature created the lottery commission to oversee the games and its staff, and the tickets went on sale in September.