WARREN, Ohio (WKBN) – Trumbull County’s former 911 director is suing the county and its commissioners for what he describes as age-related discrimination.
In his lawsuit, Ernie Cook alleges that he was pushed out of his position at the age of 69 and was replaced by someone 30 years younger who he says was less qualified.
The lawsuit, filed last week in the U.S. District Court for the Nothern District of Ohio Eastern Division, cited the Age Discrimination in Employment Act. The lawsuit also states that claims were also filed before the Ohio Civil Rights Commission, Equal Opportunity Commission and State Employee Relations Board.
Cook began working for Trumbull County in 2000, directing the 911 line since 2010.
Last January, commissioners decided to terminate Cook after he was found guilty of loss of physical control and failure to report an accident charges from a 2018 crash.
Cook was charged after an incident July 14, 2018 when he hit a teenager riding a skateboard on Crestwood Drive in Brookfield. Police said Cook did not stop after the crash, and they suspected he was intoxicated when they found him at home later that evening.
Cook admitted to driving but said he didn’t realize he hit the teen, saying he thought it may have been a dog or a squirrel, according to the police report.
He told officers he drank two 12-ounce beers when he came home but he did not have anything to drink before the crash, according to the report.
Cook’s lawsuit contends that the firing was “in bad faith,” however, saying it came as newly-elected Commissioner Niki Frenchko also terminated five senior County employees. He said Frenchko ran on the platform of “getting rid of the good old boys,” as substantiated by her own social media, the lawsuit states.
According to the lawsuit, Cook was entitled to a disciplinary hearing, which he says he didn’t receive, as well as 12 weeks of severance pay. The lawsuit states that Cook had a stellar work history and had no prior disciplinary actions against him.
The lawsuit is asking for back pay, front pay, fringe benefits and compensatory damages, as well as attorneys’ fees and costs.