Butler County officials respond to claims woman fired for being Jewish

A Butler County judge and two prosecutors have asked a federal court to dismiss most of the claims in a discrimination lawsuit filed by a former magistrate who says she was fired for being Jewish.

The lawsuit, filed in federal court in May by Kimberly Edelstein, alleges Butler County Common Pleas Judge Greg Stephens fired her for asking for eight religious holidays off in October. She is seeking almost $1 million.

FIRST REPORT: Former Butler County magistrate says she was fired for being Jewish

She included Butler County Prosecutor Michael Gmoser and Assistant Prosecutor Dan Ferguson in the lawsuit, alleging they and Stephens spoke poorly of her to prospective employers.

Stephens, Gmoser and Ferguson have now filed a motion in federal court asking that Edelstein’s lawsuit be dismissed because they say she has failed to state a claim upon which relief can be granted in 16 of 21 claims.

“Stephens’ termination of plaintiff was in retaliation for plaintiff attempting to exercise her right to practice religion,” Edelstein wrote in her complaint. “Upon information and belief, defendant Stephens was angry and upset with plaintiff when he terminated her employment and was acting with malice, hatred, revenge, a spirit of ill will and/or with reckless or callous indifference to the federally protected rights of plaintiff.”

Edelstein is asking the court to declare the county’s vacation policy unlawful; to force the three men to stop giving her negative job references; and to be awarded in excess of $300,000 each for compensatory, punitive and liquidated damages.

Edelstein also claims the county’s policy of allowing Christians to have Christmas Day off without taking a vacation day is discriminatory.

Linda Woeber, an attorney for the judge and prosecutors, said Christmas Day has long been established as a public, paid holiday.

“Edelstein’s Equal Protection claim has been rejected by this court, as well as the Sixth Circuit and U.S. Supreme Court, under more than one scenario, also finding that a paid holiday for Christmas is not a violation of the Establishment Clause,” Woeber wrote. “Butler County’s policy …while not adding certain Jewish holidays, is not arbitrary, nor does it deny Edelstein equal protection of the laws.”

Woeber has also argued that Edelstein’s defamation claims aren’t reasonable because the men were stating an opinion, which is protected under the Ohio Constitution.

Edelstein could not be reached for comment.

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