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Former Chief Deputy Coroner Claims Abusive Work Environment, Threatens Lawsuit

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Charles D. Brining (credit: douglas.co.us)

Charles D. Brining (credit: douglas.co.us)

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Investigator Brian Maass

CASTLE ROCK, Colo. (CBS4) – The former chief deputy for the Douglas County Coroner’s Office has notified the coroner and the county he may file a lawsuit after he claims he was unfairly fired.

Charles D. Brining filed a 12-page letter earlier this year indicating he may sue over his termination. CBS4 obtained the letter under a Colorado Open Records Act request.

Brining went to work for Douglas County Coroner Lora Thomas in October, 2011, but says he immediately noticed inappropriate behavior from the coroner. According to Brining’s letter, Thomas pressured him to engage in political activities. Brining said he resisted until Thomas told him, “If you do not help others with their campaigns, you cannot expect them to help you.”

Brining’s attorney did not respond to a request from CBS4 for comment.

According to the letter, “Thomas intertwined her political activities with county business.” The former employee cites a number of issues that he says were improper and created a hostile work environment. Among them, “anti-gay remarks” and a “homophobic attitude” from Thomas, improper use of county vehicles, and “intimidation of staff.”

Douglas County Coroner Lora Thomas (credit: douglas.co.us)

Douglas County Coroner Lora Thomas (credit: douglas.co.us)

Brining contends there was “a pattern and practice of deceptive, inconsistent, discriminatory, hostile, and abusive behavior by the coroner.”

Thomas declined to comment on the threatened lawsuit saying it’s a pending personnel matter.

CBS4 also obtained Thomas’ termination letter to Brining from Jan. 7, 2013. In the one-page letter Thomas wrote, “I am disheartened to discover that you failed to comply with the standard of excellence that I established for this office. This situation confirms that I can’t trust you, you don’t have the best interest of the employees, me, the Office of the Coroner or the County in mind.”

One Douglas County source familiar with the situation says Brining’s letter has triggered financial negotiations in the hopes of averting a lawsuit.

Additional Resources

Brining’s Wrongful Termination Letter And His Termination Letter

- Written by Brian Maass for CBSDenver.com

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