Woman who sued saying she was fired for voting for Obama settles out of court

Patricia Kunkle had sued Dayton-based defense contractor Q-Mark, Inc. and its president and owner, Roberta “Bobbie” Gentile in Montgomery County Common Pleas Court. The case was later moved to U.S. District Court in Dayton.

Attorneys can’t talk about the settlement due to a confidentiality clause, but Judge Timothy S. Black had ruled against all aspects of Q-Mark’s motion for a partial judgment on the pleadings.

Kunkle’s lawsuit claims Gentile threatened employees with termination last year if President Obama was re-elected and that Obama supporters would be the first to be terminated if he were re-elected. Kunkle’s suit said her voting preferences came up in conversation the day after the election and that she was fired Nov. 9 for what the suit claims Gentile said was in the “best interest of the company.”

Gentile’s attorney, Brian Wildermuth, had disputed the lawsuit’s premise, saying that Kunkle was laid off for economic reasons.

In a June ruling against Q-Mark’s three main arguments, Black wrote that relevant state and federal statutes “clearly set forth public policy against persons threatening or intimidating others in an effort to compel their vote for a particular political candidate.”

Regarding Q-Mark’s argument that Ohio law only touches upon pre-election conduct and does not expressly prohibit an employer from terminating employees based on that employee’s vote, Black wrote: “The Court finds Defendant’s argument unpersuasive.”

The suit claims Kunkle started as a temporary worker with the small company in April 2012 and became full-time in May 2012. It also says she performed her duties “efficiently and effectively,” never received any disciplinary action or negative performance evaluations. The suit also said Kunkle was paid $12 per hour, was not paid overtime for hours she worked in excess of 40 hours and is not exempt from OT pay requirements under the Fair Labor Standards Act.

Court documents show the sides settled on Kunkle’s unpaid overtime claim Dec. 9, four days before they told the court the entire case had been settled.

Thank you for reading the Dayton Daily News and for supporting local journalism. Subscribers: log in for access to your daily ePaper and premium newsletters.

Thank you for supporting in-depth local journalism with your subscription to the Dayton Daily News. Get more news when you want it with email newsletters just for subscribers. Sign up here.