Roseborough files suit against County

WINNSBORO – Fairfield County’s former planning director has filed a wrongful discharge lawsuit, claiming in court papers he was subjected to a hostile work environment, demoted and ultimately dismissed after refusing to testify a certain way in the ongoing VC Summer lawsuit.

Fairfield County, however, has denied the allegations, saying in a recent response that any sanctions taken were due to “poor performance.”

Timothy Roseborough filed the suit Aug. 19, 2019. He had been employed by the county until June 2018, when he was dismissed, the suit states.

The suit requests a jury trial. It seeks unspecified damages, legal fees and other costs to be determined by the court.

The case was removed to federal court on Oct. 14. A trial date has not been set.

U.S. Magistrate Paige Gossett has set a deadline for all motions of May 26, 2020, according to a scheduling order signed Oct. 15.

According to the suit, Roseborough was promoted twice during his 20-year tenure with the county. He said there were never any issues during his employment until a controversial rock quarry proposal arose in 2017.

“Plaintiff always got along well with his supervisors and County Council until the first part of 2017 when he refused to look the other way on a proposed rock quarry that did not comply with local zoning codes,” the suit states. “Plaintiff then heard comments from his supervisors, in the form of indirect pressure, that caused him to sense that certain powerful community leaders held a grudge against Plaintiff for refusing to look the other way on the proposed quarry’s zoning violation.”

After the quarry controversy, Roseborough stated that his title was changed in January 2018 to community service manager. He said he perceived this as a demotion, something the county denied since his salary did not change, according to the suit.

At about the same time, the county hired Chris Clauson as the new planning director. Roseborough claims in court papers that Clauson asked him to resign.

“Right away, upon Clauson’s hire, Plaintiff began experiencing what he perceived to be a racially hostile work environment, including the removal of permission to attend trainings and trips, arbitrary denials of paid time off, and a request that Plaintiff resign,” the suit states.

Roseborough said in the suit he was ultimately dismissed after refusing to testify that two unfinished reactors at VC Summer constituted a public nuisance, according to the suit.

In its response filed on Oct. 14, the county denied the allegations.

“Any adverse employment action and materially adverse action taken against Plaintiff by Defendant was taken for non-retaliatory reasons,” the response states.

“The actions taken by Defendant were made for legitimate business reasons, in good faith, and without malice or intent to harm or retaliate,” the response adds. “Defendant at all times believed it acted in compliance with applicable statutes and their implementing regulations.”

The county in its response also states that Roseborough’s suit “may be limited or barred under applicable statutes of limitations and the doctrines of estoppel, waiver, and laches.”

The county’s response seeks dismissal of the suit, as well as reimbursement for court costs and attorney fees.