In suit, Ricketts’ ex-assistant alleges she was let go because of her age

LINCOLN — Gov. Pete Ricketts’ former assistant has filed a lawsuit alleging that she was not let go because of budget cuts, as she was told, but because of her age.

Attorney Vince Powers filed the lawsuit last week in Lancaster County District Court on behalf of Kathleen Graham.

Graham was an administrative assistant/executive assistant in the Governor’s Office — a job she had held since 2001.

The lawsuit alleges that Ricketts told Graham, then 65, on Dec. 1, 2016, that her position was being eliminated due to budget cuts.

Days later, a woman in her 20s was hired and given a pay raise to do the same work Graham did, the lawsuit alleges. The woman sat at Graham’s old desk and parked in her former parking spot.

The younger woman has since left the job.

Taylor Gage, spokesman for Ricketts, responded to the lawsuit on Monday.

“In December 2016, the Governor’s Office eliminated its executive assistant position as a part of statewide budget cuts due to a downturn in tax receipts,” Gage said. “The executive assistant position was never replaced and the duties of the position were absorbed by other teammates in the office.”

The lawsuit alleges that Graham’s age was the only reason she was let go, in violation of state and federal age discrimination laws.

Graham has lost wages and job-related benefits and now has attorney’s fees, the lawsuit said.

Graham is seeking compensation for lost wages, among several other things.

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