Virgin Islands Woman Claims Firing Was Political Payback

(CN) – A Virgin Islands Lottery employee claims in court the territory’s governor abused her on Facebook and on the radio before firing her for supporting a rival gubernatorial candidate in the 2014 elections.

In a complaint filed in the federal court in Miami on Monday, plaintiff Luz Browne says she was hired by the Virgin Islands Lottery as a marketing coordinator in October 2003, and was promoted to senior marketing specialist in March 2011.

Throughout her employment, she says, she actively participated in local politics and civic affairs, and together with her husband founded an organization called “VI Restore Hope.”

“VI Restore Hope brings awareness of local issues to the citizens of the Territory by hosting various events and running ads in the local newspapers and on the radio,” the complaint says.

Browne claims that in 2012, Gov. Kenneth Mapp met with her and her husband and asked for their support in the 2014 elections. She says the couple explained they couldn’t do so because they’d already publicly declared their support for his opponent, Donna Christian-Christensen.

Browne says Mapp was upset by the couple’s decision and during his subsequent campaign repeatedly posted false and derogatory statements about the couple of her Facebook page.

Browne says she repeatedly asked Mapp to stop his malicious posting, but that he refused to do so and even went a step further: attacking her and her family on local radio programs.

She says despite this, she continued to campaign for Christensen. Then Mapp won the election and assumed office in early 2015.

Days later, Browne says, Mapp had her fired.

She appealed her termination to the Public Employee Relations Board, and says that during a hearing, her immediate supervisor said Mapp directed him to fire her.

Browne seeks compensatory damages on claims of violation of her free speech and free association rights.

She is represented by Kye Walker from The Walker Legal Group in St. Croix, Virgin Islands.

Gov. Mapp’s spokesperson, Cherie Munchez, declined to comment on the case.

The Virgin Islands Lottery is the oldest continuous lottery in the United States.

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