MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

April 24, 2013

Golden Rule's former boss sues over dismissal

He says injury claim at heart of case

By D.E. Smoot
Phoenix Staff Writer

— A local nonprofit agency noted for its efforts to help the developmentally disabled is being sued by its former executive director.

Marshall Clayton, who served 13 years as the executive director of Golden Rule Industries, alleges he was let go after he sought compensation for a workplace injury. Clayton also alleges the agency refused to pay him for work performed and unused vacation time. He is seeking damages exceeding $75,000, court documents state.

In a petition filed in Muskogee County District Court, Clayton describes the events leading to his termination in December. Clayton, who said board members approved an annual salary increase of $35,000 less than a month before his dismissal, said he was “ambushed” by members of the agency’s executive committee “about alleged job performance concerns.”

Taylor Foster, who succeeded Clayton, discounted the claims. He said Clayton “resigned from his position at Golden Rule Industries of Muskogee Inc. in writing on December 13, 2012.”

The petition filed by Jonathan E. Shook, a Tulsa lawyer who represents Clayton, paints a different picture. Shook states his client received a diagnosis of brain cancer and underwent surgery Nov. 29, 2011. Clayton returned to work about two weeks later, resuming “the full performance of his job duties at Golden Rule,” the petition states.

Shook alleges that about a year later, Clayton “injured himself on the job and suffered a concussion ... and received medical care and treatment.” Clayton allegedly notified Golden Rule officials about the injury and treatment.

The executive committee summoned Clayton to a Dec. 13, 2012, meeting to discuss “alleged job performance concerns.” Shook alleges that Clayton was shocked and confused by the turn of events, and “tried to respond” but was “denied ... the opportunity to address the erroneous allegations.”

Clayton seeks actual and punitive damages for retaliatory discharge and actual damages for Golden Rule’s alleged failure to pay wages due for work performed and vested vacation time. All three claims arise from protections secured by state law.

Golden Rule Industries provides jobs for people who deal with developmental disabilities. The agency provides training and employment for about 70 people who work at its thrift stores or provide services to satisfy its industrial and janitorial contracts.

Reach D.E. Smoot at (918) 684-2901 or dsmoot@muskogeephoenix.com.