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State forks over $85,000 to settle one Zumwalt age discrimination claim…

2:50 PM EDT on June 13, 2023

I guess we’re no longer the only media outlet in the state covering Shelly Zumwalt’s purge of old and frumpy employees from state agencies! 

On Friday, Dylan Brown with KFOR put a big dent in his employer’s efforts to score Oklahoma Tourism Department ad dollars by following our lead and reporting that Zumwalt – the media-friendly shining star of the Stitt Administration who apparently has Lt. Governor aspirations – has been on the receiving end of multiple age discrimination complaints as she’s agency hopped around state government. 

As we reported last week, one of those complaints – filed by former OHCA communication hack Jo Stainsby – was recently settled. 

Probably because Attorney Mark Hammons loves to be on television, Dylan was able to score the details:

Stainsbury, according to court records was fired in 2019 and filed a case in 2021 claiming it was due to her age. Records state that Zumwalt was her boss at the time. Stainsbury’s case was settled for $85,000 in April according to Hammons.

As an Oklahoma taxpayer, I’d like to issue my condolences to Ms. Stainsby, or as KFOR calls her, Ms. Stainsbury.

After she pays attorney fees, court costs, and all that other fun stuff, she’ll be lucky to take home 60% of the settlement. That’s a decent severance, but I bet she’d rather just have her old job as opposed to dealing with a career reset.

Here’s what Attorney Mark Hammons – a guy who’s really benefiting from the Stitt and Walters regime – had to say:

“You would hope that particularly public employers would learn from those cases and take care about how they treat employees, especially long-term employees. I haven’t seen much evidence of that,” said Hammons about Stainsbury’s case. “Settlements are a compromise and you’re making a decision there. Do I want to spend the time and effort? And frankly, the emotional energy it takes to go through a lawsuit or do I want to resolve it? This was a good settlement.”

For what it’s worth, I’m also hearing there’s not a lot of “evidence” that Zumwalt has changed her ways.

Over the past couple of months, I’ve heard that some “older” tourism employees have been shown the door.

I’ve also received multiple emails from terrified Moles who work inside the Tourism Department.

They claim they work in a culture of fear that demands 100% loyalty and adherence to Ms. Zumwalt, and not the agency or people for which they work. Many are worried that if they say the wrong thing, or don’t dress well and act fun and cheery in meetings, they’ll be targeted as frumpy bad apples and fired. 

Although that really stinks for many long-term employees, it works out great for young upstarts who are eager to please!

For example, former KFOR anchor Taylor (Adams) Nelson – a 20-something from Edmond who recently married a broadcasting professor from where she attended college – has skyrocketed up the ranks of state government by hitching a ride on the Zumwalt Express. 

In less than two years, she’s gone from KFOR traffic reporter to OESC Communications Director to Chief of Staff of the Tourism Department. I know age discrimination can go both ways, and as a guy who was a middle-manager corporate type in my 20s, I’m not saying youth should disqualify you from a job, but I think every former TV news anchor turned PR hack would agree that’s a really fast rise up the state government ranks. 

That being said, give Taylor credit. She seems to like her job, and sets the “gold standard” in how to get on your boss’s good side:

Yep. No old and frumpy there!

Anyway, in addition to all the agism stuff that I’m hearing, there are also weird murmurs going through the Ogle Mole Network regarding Zumwalt’s husband’s IT firm scoring some lucrative state contracts. 

Like most things involving the Stitt Administration’s dealings with their private pirate sector pals, I’m sure everything is legit and by the book, but if you have any details or clues we should know about, hit us up on the TLO Tip Line. 

Stay with The Lost Ogle. We’ll keep you advised. 

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