Ousted worker cries foul play Attorney: Firing JFS worker is 'suspect,' symbolizes possible 'smear campaign'

The attorney representing a fired Huron County Department of Job and Family Services employee said the timing looks suspicious. Toledo attorney Marilyn Widman also believes the county is involved in a "smear campaign" against her client. Nichole "Nicki" Baker was fired Tuesday based on allegations she threatened an HCDJFS client, used profanity repeatedly with the same woman and accessed pornography using the agency computer, HCDJFS Interim Director Lowell Etzler said earlier. Baker, a screener since March 7, 2005, was hired as a clerical specialist Jan. 12, 2004.
Cary Ashby
Jul 25, 2010

The attorney representing a fired Huron County Department of Job and Family Services employee said the timing looks suspicious. Toledo attorney Marilyn Widman also believes the county is involved in a "smear campaign" against her client.

Nichole "Nicki" Baker was fired Tuesday based on allegations she threatened an HCDJFS client, used profanity repeatedly with the same woman and accessed pornography using the agency computer, HCDJFS Interim Director Lowell Etzler said earlier. Baker, a screener since March 7, 2005, was hired as a clerical specialist Jan. 12, 2004.

Agency screeners make initial contacts with a complainant, gather information from the person and then turn it over to a case worker.

Widman said "any investigation of the underlying facts will quickly show that the termination is not supported, that the county misused its equipment in setting Ms. Baker up with charges." The attorney explained that HCDJFS officials used printouts of pornography shown on a computer screen during Baker's disciplinary hearing.

The attorney, who wasn't at the meeting, stressed it's difficult to tell if the printouts came from Baker's computer or someone else's.

"Nicki absolutely, positively did not do what she is accused of doing with her computer," Widman said.

Huron County Sheriff's Major Greg Englund said Baker filed a complaint early Wednesday afternoon, accusing someone of tampering with her work computer. Englund had no further information because he hadn't seen the actual report as of this morning.

HCDJFS Assistant Director Bonnie Richards said the chief inspector's office of the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services monitored Baker's computer from June 8 through 22. That's the same timeline for the allegations Etzler cited against Baker.

"The printouts came from the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services," Richards said.

Widman, Baker's attorney, said her client's deposition in a sexual discrimination lawsuit filed against the county was canceled Monday, the day Baker was to be questioned by attorneys. That is one day before the agency fired her.

"I think the timing of the firing is suspect," Widman said.

In April, Baker filed the lawsuit. She has accused former HCDJFS Director Erich Dumbeck, the agency and county commissioners of passing her over for five promotions because Dumbeck reportedly was infatuated with her. Baker also accused Dumbeck of making "unwelcome physical contact" by reportedly touching her on the hips, shoulders and back and making an "unwelcome advance," all between January and 2004 and January of this year.

Baker and Dumbeck had a personal relationship starting in January 2004, when they were co-workers supervised by different administrators.

Richards said she didn't know why the deposition was canceled, adding: "I have not heard word one about it."

Widman, in an e-mail to the Reflector, said the county is using "the age-old tactic of discrediting an adversary" by firing Baker and three other HCDJFS workers.

"The timing of (Baker's) termination is clearly retaliatory and meant to force Ms. Baker into an economic position where she cannot afford to continue her case against the county," Widman continued. "Shame on them, and how foolish they are to think Ms. Baker will simply fall down in defeat."

Assistant program administrator Marla White, eligibility/referral supervisor Jon Kelley and public information officer Stacia Badovick were told Friday their jobs would be eliminated, effective Aug. 24. Richards has said the positions were cuts were staff cuts done to save about $173,000.

Kelley has decided to take another agency job as an eligibility specialist.

Widman called the three workers hard working, knowledgeable and "loyal to the purpose the agency."

"I think there's definitely an effort by the commissioners and the employees of the department to disempower the employees who are willing to stand up for themselves," the attorney said. "They want sheep and all these women are not sheep. That's why we are proud to represent them.

"The citizens of Huron County should be outraged that their tax money is being spent on this kind of effort," Widman said.

She further cited the Reflector online comments on the recent HCDJFS stories as more evidence of the county's "smear campaign." There were 90 responses to the story about Baker being fired as of this morning.

"I'm not worried about the stories themselves," Widman added.

The attorney said the comments symbolize the "further harm" HCDJFS is trying to inflict on the workers. Richards declined to comment, saying she was unsure of the context.

Comments

newshound (Anon...

And now it begins.. the attorney's spin. Lots of hot air but not much substance. Better cut your losses and move on Ms. Widman. Your accusations are borderline ridiculous and would hardly seem to hold up in the court of public opinion, let alone a court of law.

Unbelievable (A...

Readers............THIS is the real story and you will see that for yourselves after this trail has ended.

what ever (Anon...

Hey Marilyn - if your so concerned with your clients financial status and her ability to be able to maintain your services - then how about this, represent her for free!! After all, you won't fatten your wallet but you're sure to gather some fame!!!! How much money have you collected from the tax payers?

Hard to believe...

Unbelievable. Yes, it is unbelievable. The whole story is an attorney trying to push the blame on anyone and everyone but her client.

what (Anonymous)

Any idiot can put 2 and 2 together here to come up with 4.......the girl is guilty. And by the way, if it is remotely true that "the county misused its equipment in setting Ms. Baker up with charges" as you stated (and we all know that is nothing but false) then why was she away from her desk so much to allow this to happen??? Shouldn't she have been sitting there working? If she wasn't needed that often, then maybe it was time to eliminate that position anyway.

My 2 Cents (Ano...

You never know what a jury in Huron county will do. Even if the odd's were 50-50 those are darn good odd's!! That Agency hasn't had much luck with jurys in Huron County the facts speak for themself's

Another Cut and...

Nichole "Nicki" Baker was smeared Tuesday on her hips, shoulders and back by hard working, knowledgeable sheep. "I think there's definitely an effort by the sheep to disempower the employees who are willing to access pornography using the agency computer." the attorney said. "I'm not worried about the printouts of pornography shown on a computer screen during Baker's disciplinary hearing." She added that "the pornography was loyal to the purpose the agency." "The citizens of Huron County should be outraged that their sheep are unwilling to stand up for pornography" Widman said. That's why we are proud to represent her, she added. Widman, in an e-mail to the Reflector, said the county is using "the age-old tactic of discrediting employees who are infatuated with Erich Dumbeck." Adding," How foolish they are to think Ms. Baker will simply welcome advances upon her hips, shoulders and back?" "The timing of (Baker's) termination is clearly retaliatory and meant to force Ms. Baker into seedy printouts of pornography." Adding that "....disempowered, she cannot afford not to." Widman continued. "I think the timing is perfect." Erich Dumbeck said.

McGruff (Anonymous)

I wanted some sheep but all I found at HCDJFS were dogs.

Michael Gravell...

Sharon and I feel very sorry for this young woman so we are offering to help her in any way that we can. We understand what it is like to deal with sexual addiction and we will give her the pamphlets we got when we were in therapy together. We are praying for you.

Baha Men (Anonymous)

Who let the dogs out?

shocked (Anonymous)

Who would actually believe this could be true?
How could anyone get away with this at work?
Only in Huron County could this be huge news.
Really people, don't you have anything better to do?
Even I know that this doesn't make sense.

Taxpayer (Anonymous)

Dear Ms. Widman,

I would like to start off by saying that not everyone is of the same opinion as you about the job and family services. I don't work there but I have friends that do. As far as people commenting on this blog; let me cross examine you; why can you say what you want in the newspaper and those people with different opinions are to keep quiet? Why can't you find people to represent other than HCDJFS workers or are you trying to get a fat wallet off the county dollar or in your words "taxpayers". I realize you are a defensive attorney and anyone with any sense can see you are trying to place somewhere else.. Good move but won't work.

Taxpayer (Anonymous)

should have put the word blame on some place else....go ahead correct me....i can admit when i make a mistake

wondering (Anon...

isn't it true ms. widman that you started this smear campaign with the dumbeck news, you were always being quoted in there and it seems funny you didn't mind that being in the paper....perhaps you were looking for your fifteen minutes of fame. if ms. baker finds this stuff hurt don't read it. stay off the internet, hasn't it caused enough problems

Re:Cut and Past...

Soooo Funny!!!

wondering (Anon...

did anyone hear about the 100 county workers in lucas county being laid off....wake up HURON COUNTY....you are fortuante that it is only 3.

curious (Anonymous)

Why would an e-mail from Widman say the county was using "the age-old tactic of discrediting an adversary" by firing Baker and three other HCDJFS workers? What do the other workers have to do with Baker's lawsuit?

Re:Another Cut ...

Soooo Ghey!!!

Re Taxpayer (An...

Taxpayer said: Why can't you find people to represent other than HCDJFS workers or are you trying to get a fat wallet off the county dollar or in your words "taxpayers".

Cuz if you got a good fishin hole you don't move down stream!!!

dear curious (A...

nothing.

i think (Anonymous)

ms widman do you have a kleenex this is making me cry....please ms widman stop i am crying so hard from laughing my butt off at your stupidity

i think (Anonymous)

please everyone go to widmans website with her creditials posted you'll get a kick....she is some type of christian board but representing low lives like this....aren't you having a issues yourself ms. widman

just wondering ...

She further cited the Reflector online comments on the recent HCDJFS stories as more evidence of the county's "smear campaign." There were 90 responses to the story about Baker being fired as of this morning.

"I'm not worried about the stories themselves," Widman added.

Then why worry about the blog? Isn't it all news whether it's good or bad?

i think (Anonymous)

this will be marilyns new resume...don't take it verbatim, things have been changed to protect those who aren't innocent.

Education

Marilyn graduated from Villanova University in Philadelphia, PA in 1989 with two Bachelor of Arts degrees, one in English Literature and the other in How to catch a predator. She graduated magnam rubber laude for both degrees. After moving to Ohio and pursuing other career opportunities, Marilyn decided to pursue getting rich off the huron county department of job and family services or the taxpayers of huron county.

Work Experience
Huron County prowler aka ambulance chaser
Area of Practice
Huron County
Bar Admissions
Moose, OB, and the Shamrock....Charlies on occasion

now (Anonymous)

please you give her way to much credit....take out charlies bar

re:now (Anonymous)

while you are at it take out Rupp's place, it's a shathole

ex employee (An...

Do not feel sorry for Marla White, Jon Kelly, Stacy Badovck or Nikki Baker. HCDJFS is better off without them.

Marla and Jon tried to get Erich ousted from the day of his appointment. They turned the workers that reported to them against the rest of the office. They created a hostile work environment for a worker or anyone who would not play by their rules. As Jon Kelly would tell anyone who crossed her "I don't get revenge I get even, remember that". Stacy Badovich was just there, they gave her busy work because they did not know what to do with her. Nikki was not passed over because she slept with Erich, she was passed over due to her high absentism. Look at her leave balance.

HCDJFS made the right decision to get rid of these people. Boy could I tell you stories. That is for another time.

clean house (An...

Just clean house...get rid of everyone at HCDJFS & the commissioners and start from scratch. There is to much BS going on at HCDJFS and it needs to stop. It's high time that those voted into office do their job or leave.

re: ex employee...

yea, you sound like an employee there now!!!! how the heck would anyone other than an employees in admin know about nikki's absentism....keep talking, you're about to reveal who you are and I sure have a few guesses!!! lol

My 2 cents (Ano...

OK with all the going on's here, Wouldn't you think someone from the state would step in and take over like they do when the schools fall under mismanagement? Like it or not that's what's going on here MISMANAGMENT. Anyone and I mean ANYONE can look at this and see that's what the problem is. The elected county officials chose to do nothing about the problem with this office, For all we know all county offices are run this way. There no shame in asking for help, I'm a little tired of being the laughing stock of the state.

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