LYNCHBURG — A former law enforcement agent who successfully challenged her firing by the Department of Motor Vehicles in Lynchburg is in line to receive nearly $400,000 in compensation from the state.
Anastasia Wootten, fired in 2013, is entitled to back pay, benefits and interest of $237,236, according to a Dec. 30 ruling in an ongoing employee-management dispute at the DMV.
A federal jury ruled in October that Wootten had been terminated without just cause and awarded her the back pay, after which Wootten asked for reinstatement. District Judge Norman Moon declined but instead gave Wootten an additional sum of “front pay.” The amount was set at $161,947, or two and a half times her 2012 pay and benefit rate.
Moon’s decision said Wootten and agency leadership could never again work together. She accused “the entire DMV chain of command of gross malfeasance and abuse of power” but did not substantiate her allegations, which were dismissed, Moon wrote. DMV officials have publicly and strongly condemned Wootten as unfit for law enforcement work.
“It would be too much to expect the parties to set aside the animus engendered by the intense disputes and dueling allegations of misconduct underlying this case,” Moon said.
A clash with a co-worker whom Wootten accused of bumping her in a restroom, and the aftermath of that incident, led to Wootten’s firing. Wootten proved that DMV Commissioner Richard Holcomb and other agency leaders denied her a post-termination grievance hearing. The jury found that if a grievance panel had heard Wootten’s case, it would not have deemed her firing justified. It was on that basis that she qualified for lost-job compensation.
Lynchburg DMV office conflicts have spawned two other lawsuits that name DMV leadership.
Suits by David Lee Stultz, a former state DMV special agent, and Robert Supinger, also a former DMV law enforcement officer, are pending.