The former assistant director of the Canadian County Emergency Management department has filed a discrimination and retaliation complaint against the county.
Breanna Shunn said she was fired June 16 from her position with the department after she questioned the qualifications of current manager Troy Mead.
Mead was hired in May after retiring from the Veterans Affairs Department in Honolulu, Hawaii. He has more than 20 years of experience in emergency management.
Shunn’s salary was funded through a $30,000 grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, according to county records.
Shunn, 27, said she filed her complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission the week after she was terminated.
EEOC complaints are not public record and cannot be released for confirmation.
However, Shunn told the Yukon Review, she was told she was being released from her position due to a reduction in force despite that her position was fully federally funded through September.
Shunn said she questioned why Mead was selected over her for the position. She has a master’s degree while he has an associate’s degree.
In addition, she said that she had served four months as the interim director.
“I filed because there have been a few thing that have happened that were concerning or questionable,” she said, although pointing out that she could not go into detail. “It was just no right on what happened.”
Shunn was one of 10 candidates who applied for the position.
In addition, county records indicate she was one of seven people who were interviewed, including another woman. The position eventually was awarded to Mead.
County Commission Chairman Marc Hader said six of the seven candidates who interviewed were qualified for the position, but the decision was to go with Mead based on his experience.
Shunn said her official complaint is failure to hire, age discrimination and retaliation. The complaint names the county commissioners.
Shunn said she was well qualified for the position, having received a master’s degree from Oklahoma State University in fire and emergency management.
In addition, she said she interned with emergency management departments in Oklahoma, Utah as well as in North Carolina.
Shunn said problems within the department began when Smith was still in charge of the department and only became worse.
“I want it to be known so that something like this doesn’t happen again, especially to a woman,” she said.
Shunn also said her main goal with the department was to make sure the county is a safe place to live.
“I did do a lot of work keeping the county safe. The burn bans earlier this year, that was something I pushed for. I wanted to protect the county. I felt I had done a lot of work for the betterment of the county. This was wrong. … I was there for the county and I was there to help people,” she said.
Shunn said Mead’s attorney sent her a letter asking her to issue an apology to Mead for comments they thought she had made. She denies making any kind of disparaging comments about Mead.
Mead said Friday he did hire an attorney, who wrote a letter asking Shunn to stop making comments about him. However, it was the attorney’s idea to seek an apology.
Meanwhile, the Canadian County met Friday for about 2 ½ hours in executive session to discuss Shunn’s complaint. Hader said the commissioners have asked the district attorney to look into the complaint and report back to them.
Meanwhile, an investigation into an EEOC complaint filed against the co-director of the Canadian County Juvenile Justice Center is nearing completion.
Commissioners heard Friday from Associate Judge Bob Hughey, who is Bill Alexander’s supervisor at the juvenile center.
Hughey initially wanted to speak to the commissioners as part of the public meeting, but relented when the commissioners suggested that it could violate the state’s open meeting laws because his comments were not on the agenda.
Hughey agreed to speak with them in the executive session.
Afterwards, Hughey said he wanted to take some time to review information he had been given by the commissioners before speaking publicly.
Hughey did say that Alexander has not been suspended from his job, because the commissioners did not have that authority. However, his job duties have been changed.
Alexander is suspended from working directly with employees at the juvenile center, but is working on the facility’s budget, said Hughey.
Alexander’s position was changed on June 13 after the county learned that a discrimination claim had been filed against him with the EEOC.
Currently, an independent investigation is being conducted into the allegations in the EEOC complaint. That investigation is nearing its end, officials have said.
In a media statement released by the commissioners, they said the complaint is a discrimination complaint, but could not comment further on the type of complaint it was.
Dr. Bill Sharp, who also is a co-director, has been handling all the duties of the position since Alexander’s suspension.
Alexander has been a co-director at the facility since 2012. He previously served as a detention center director.