BATON ROUGE — A former longtime East Baton Rouge Parish clerk of
court's office employee claims he and his colleagues were forced to
hand over cash to pay for birthday and Christmas presents for their
boss, Clerk of Court Doug Welborn.
Also, the former employee claimed it was mandatory that they
donate to his 2015 re-election campaign.
Wilton Roy Davis worked at the office from 1991 until last
January, when he was forced to retire at age 62, according to reports
in The Advocate. Davis filed a suit on Dec. 27 in the 19th
District Judicial Court against Welborn, claiming he was fired for
opposing and reporting the office’s workplace practices.
“Mr. Davis took the extraordinary step of standing up against
workplace practices he contends were wrong. For that, he became a
target,” Jill Craft, an attorney representing Davis, told The
Davis claims he was subjected to illegal age-based harassment and
discrimination because he protested the practice of making mandatory
contributions for Welborn’s gifts and his campaign, and questioned
the clerk of court’s use of the office’s credit card.
Craft also represents former clerk’s office employee, Joyce
Swearingen, who filed a suit on Dec. 27, accusing Welborn of
age-based harassment and discrimination. Details of the harassment
were not available. Swearingen was 71 when she says she was forced to
retire last January, according to reports in The Advocate. She worked
in the office’s recording department for 34 years.
“The very reason age discrimination is against the law is
because it forces hard-working people from their jobs simply because
of age,” Craft said. “The net result is removing many of our most
competent, experienced and talented workers at the apex of their
According to the suit, Davis claims that the office’s
administrators were forced to pay $100 and supervisors were forced to
pay $50 every August for Welborn’s birthday. Employees were
required to make similar cash payments for their superior’s
Christmas gifts. Greg Brown, chief deputy clerk of court, collected
and kept a log of the received cash payments. The employees who did
not contribute were at risk for losing their jobs.
Also, Davis claims he and other employees were required to donate
$250 each to Welborn's 2015 re-election campaign, according to the
At a 2015 Christmas party, Davis alleged, Welborn told him he
needed to retire Jan. 1, 2016, or he would be fired. Welborn
threatened to take steps to interfere with both Davis' and
Swearingen’s abilities to draw full retirements if they didn’t
retire when requested.
“It is extremely important for people of courage, like Mr.
Davis, to continue to stand up. The price is often very high, but
whistleblowers represent the necessary checks and balances in our
workplaces throughout this country,” Craft said. “Their courage
should be the norm as opposed to a rarity and thankfully, we have
laws designed to protect them.”
“We have been served with the recently filed matters and they
have been referred to our legal counsel,” Fred Sliman, spokesman
for the East Baton Rouge Parish Clerk of Court’s Office, told The
Sliman said neither he nor the office could comment further
because of the pending litigation.