ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - A former top Minnesota Lottery official suing over her termination pleaded guilty Monday to a drunken-driving charge stemming from a serious car crash last December.
Johnene Canfield pleaded guilty in Ramsey County District Court to gross a misdemeanor charge of failing to submit to a chemical test. She paid a $715 fine, agreed to 30 days in an out-of-custody sentence-to-service program and committed to perform 100 hours of additional community service. Additional penalties were stayed pending completion of three years of probation without other criminal or alcohol-related offenses. Two other charges were dismissed.
“Ms. Canfield is very relieved to have closure to this incident,” said her attorney, Lis Carlson. “She has made great strides in her sobriety, she has completed treatment and is going to AA.”
Canfield, 47, had been with the lottery since it launched in 1989 and had risen through the ranks to become assistant lottery director. She supervised three dozen employees and was in charge when the director was away.
Following the daytime car accident that seriously injured an elderly man, Canfield was placed on administrative leave. She was fired months later. She sued the lottery earlier this month, saying she was subjected to gender discrimination and that it should have treated her alcoholism as a protected disability.
Canfield contends that she received mixed messages from her superiors about alcohol use and had been “condoned and encouraged” by Lottery Director Ed Van Petten to drink with him when they traveled together to conferences in recent years. She said she was punished more severely than male managers who violated workplace rules.
She is seeking damages and reinstatement to her $100,000-a-year post.
In a filing late last week, state lawyers denied the discrimination and moved to dismiss her lawsuit.
“Defendant had legitimate, non-discriminatory reasons for each of the actions or decisions challenged in the complaint,” wrote Ian Welsh and Kathryn Fodness, both assistant attorneys general. They added, “Plaintiff’s damages, if any, were caused by her own actions.”
A hearing in the civil case is set for Dec. 23.
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