Wrongful termination lawsuit filed against Baltimore prosecutor's office

Antoinette E. Swiec, a 61-year-old white woman, is suing her former place of employment, the Baltimore prosecutors’ office, for wrongful termination and age, race, and gender discrimination in the workplace. Swiec worked for the Baltimore state attorney’s office for 25 years and was terminated in 2010. She is seeking $400,000 in compensation for wrongful termination. Swiec believes she was fired because her fellow employees were predominantly young, African Americans who she claims wanted her fired.

A spokesman for the state attorney’s office, Mark Cheshire, declined to comment on the wrongful termination suit.

Swiec’s position at the prosecutor’s office was office manager of the Firearms Investigation and Violence Enforcement (FIVE) Unit in 2010. She supervised a clerical staff made up of four African Americans who were predominantly young. She reported to Matthew Fraling III, the FIVE division chief. He is an African American in his 40s.

Swiec claims that her staff “had difficulty in conforming to the requirements of a professional workplace.” She also says that Fraling ignored any concerns that Swiec raised. In November 2010, Swiec claims that her boss suggested she become the clerical supervisor of the Economic Crimes Unit, “where she would supervise a staff that included all white lawyers and support staff of two older black clerical workers and a white investigator.”

In response to that, Matthew Fraling described the proposed arrangement as “promoting a ‘better mix.’” Swiec declined the new position and later that week she was fired by Deputy State’s Attorneys Haven Kodeck and Cynthia Jones. Her lawsuit claims that her “wrongful termination” was under the pretense that she improperly contacted a judge’s chambers. Swiec’s nephew was serving on a jury, and she wanted to meet him for lunch. However, she didn’t know when he would be free, so she called the judge’s chambers to see when the trial would break. She claims she was told to do this by a prosecutor. The judge also agreed with this advice.

“The circumstances of this alleged termination had no basis and were pretextual,” the lawsuit states, claiming there are no professional rules against such contact and that a prosecutor wouldn’t have suggested it if it were wrong. “The desire of the defendant employer was to satisfy the desires of the [FIVE] staff to see plaintiff removed as their supervisor one way or the other.”

Kodeck and Jones no longer work at the prosecutor’s office. Fraling is now doing private practice.