Nanette Robertson was the director of Eastern Workforce Development in Muskogee for 11 1/2 years — and worked there for 20. In July of 2016, she resigned under what she says was unjust pressure from the board and threats of prosecution. Now she is suing the board, alleging they coerced her into resigning and sullied her name to prevent her from getting comparable work.
Robertson’s lawsuit states that she was put on administrative leave while the board investigated allegations of missing funds — allegations that later turned out to be untrue. While she was on leave, Robertson says board members approached her in the Arrowhead Mall food court and told her “she did not have the support of the Board, but if she resigned, no criminal charges would be filed against her.”
Robertson, who at the time was unaware that the audit had turned up no evidence of any criminal activity, says she was given only a few minutes to take the resignation offer and be given a severance package. She says he hastily wrote out a resignation letter on a piece of scrap paper, signing it only because she believed she would be terminated otherwise. She was later cleared of any wrongdoing.
Robertson also alleges that the board chairman, Anthony James, was excluded from discussions regarding her because “they thought because both are black, he would protect her.”
The lawsuit names the board, Crystal Brown, Nanette Spencer, Ken Doke and Earnie Gilder and asks for damages in excess of $10,000. Calls for comment to the board have not yet been returned.
UPDATE: Jerri Schoats-Stoutermire, executive director of Eastern Workforce Board, sent the following response to this story:
The Eastern Oklahoma Workforce Board is confident that all decisions made with regard to Ms. Nanette Robertson were appropriate and in compliance with all laws and regulations. We cannot comment on specific claims made in this matter as they relate to personnel issues and are part of ongoing litigation.
We are also being told we will receive paperwork that disproves the allegations Robertson makes in her lawsuit. When we receive it, we will post it here.