Fired county worker seeks legal advice

‘This isn’t over,’ Zickefoose says

Fired last week, a Montezuma County employee said she intends to seek legal advice over potential civil action for wrongful termination.

After an employment hearing on Monday, July 28, Montezuma County Commissioners unanimously upheld County Administrator Melissa Brunner’s decision to fire assistant Amber Zickefoose. The 10-year employee was terminated on Friday, July 25, two days after Zickefoose reported a county employee had illegally used a county truck to haul hay. She also previously contacted commissioners after Brunner missed an appointment with the county’s health department.

“I feel like I’ve been retaliated against for blowing the whistle,” Zickefoose told commissioners.

Commissioner Keenan Ertel told Zickefoose her assumption was wrong.

“There are no coincidences,” he said.

At the open hearing, Zickefoose said her personnel file did not include a single verbal or written reprimand. Self-described as a “dedicated” employee in the administration office for the past decade, Zickefoose said she took only six of 12 weeks for maternity leave three months ago.

On the job for 11 months, Brunner claimed Zickefoose created “tension,” and the office needed “a new team.” Brunner also said that Zickefoose violated her trust.

“We just haven’t clicked,” Brunner told commissioners.

Zickefoose denied Brunner’s assertions.

“I sit here today without real answers,” she said.

After the public forum, commissioners met behind closed doors for about eight minutes before unanimously voting to uphold the termination.

“This isn’t over,” Zickefoose said after collecting her last paycheck.