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Town of Cary named in employee lawsuit

Posted February 10, 2010
Updated January 9, 2012

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— A Cary town employee has filed a complaint against the town and his supervisor, claiming abusive conduct that caused him depression, anxiety and panic attacks.

In a complaint filed in Wake County Superior Court Tuesday, Brent Reck, the town's zoning compliance supervisor, claims that the town's associate planning director, Ricky Barker, imposed "aggressive mistreatment" on him that forced him to take a leave of absence and be placed on short-term disability.

The town has "declined to take remedial action," the complaint says.

In the filing, Reck, a previous finalist for Cary's 2007 Employee of the Year award, claims that when he asserted that parts of his employee performance reviews were "unfair and lacking factual basis," Barker "focused increasing attention on him and imposed increasingly unreasonable demands on him."

Reck has asked to be transferred out of the situation, his attorney, Lisa Grafstein, said.

The complaint also alleges that Barker had been the source of conflict among the staff in the planning department for several years and that the town hired a consultant to address turnover and morale problems within the department twice.

"At the Town of Cary, employees are our most valuable resource, and we are proud of our long history of creating an excellent organizational culture and work environment that fosters their success," Cary spokeswoman Susan Moran said in a statement.

"We are saddened and disappointed by these allegations. We will offer a clear and vigorous defense to the claims and welcome the court's review of the matter," she continued.

Update Jan. 9, 2012: Brent Reck dropped the lawsuit in May 2011.

18 Comments

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  • happymom Feb 11, 2010

    I don't work with Ricky, but I know him and this does not fit the man I know. It speaks volumes that this is a single individual making these statements instead of a battalion of them. If there was a long-standing pattern, it is difficult to believe that only now someone could come forward. It sounds more like a disgruntled employee who was unhappy about a performance review than anything else to me.

  • scottsplanet Feb 11, 2010

    What Brent is saying is true and I wish him the best of luck. All you have to do is ask the current staff there thoughts about Ricky. Just ask the 40 or so staff members that have rotated through that department.. in the past three years or so..they'd be glad to share.

  • HadEnough Feb 11, 2010

    Sounds just like working for the state. Anytime you question management (and I use the term management incorrectly), they get their panties in a wad and begin passive retaliation.

  • sunshinep12 Feb 11, 2010

    For all those criticizing this guy put a sock in it. I have first hand experience on working in a hostile work environment. I quit after making complaints that went on deaf ear because management will stick together no matter if it’s right or wrong. The local high school stopped sending students for on the job training because of her behavior. I wish him all the best. What human wants to be mistreated on the job because the boss just feels like he can get away with it? You wouldn’t accept this type of behavior if you or a love one was being bullied outside of the job.

  • rosie48 Feb 11, 2010

    Perfectly stated, "the Gooch"!

  • The Gooch Feb 11, 2010

    I have met people who have worked in the zoning compliance office at the Town of Cary and everything I have heard about Ricky Barker fits pretty well with the allegations in Mr. Reck's lawsuit. It will be interesting to see how this one plays out, but from everything I've heard the Town's lawyers will have their work cut out for them (especially if/when former employees step forward to tell of their interactions with Mr. Barker).

  • matthewhendricks Feb 10, 2010

    You're kidding me. Is this for real? This guy needs to grow up.

  • TheTruthWillSetYouFree28 Feb 10, 2010

    The Town of Cary has spent thousands of dollars on a consultant and conducted countless hand holding sessions to try and deal with the problem that the named supervisors have caused. Between 2002-2008 over 40 people left the planning & zoning department and identified the exact same people as the problem. As a former employee I can tell you that the HR process and the process to file a complaint does not work. If you are identified as a whistle blower you are screwed and forced out of your job. Good Luck! Maybe this will give the employee the support that so many before him didn't receive.

  • 5-113 FA Retired Feb 10, 2010

    This story sure did migrate to the back of the bus in a hurry! The village of cary must have high people in places.

  • concerncitizen Feb 10, 2010

    Hostel work environment. That's what it's called and he has a right to sue. I've seen it and felt it. When the economy is bad like now you see more and more of it, because some people like the power and get off on miss treating employees......

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