A former employee claims the local chapter of Boy Scouts of America fired him for not proceeding with a raffle the organization was not legally able to do, but correspondence from his boss indicates there were other problems with his employment.
In a lawsuit filed last month in Eau Claire County Court, Timothy Foley is seeking reinstatement to his job and at least $30,800 from the Eau Claire-based Chippewa Valley chapter, which terminated him in late August after about 4½ months as its development director.
The civil complaint written by Wausau attorney Jenifer Bizzotto of nonprofit legal firm Wisconsin Judicare states that Foley was wrongfully discharged from his job because he refused to conduct a raffle drawing that was planned as part of a September fundraising event.
The local chapter was unable to get a raffle permit from the state due to rules and regulations of the national Boy Scouts of America that prohibit fundraisers with games of chance, lotteries, raffle ticket sales, bingo or other activities that could be construed as gambling, according to a letter from the state Division of Gaming, which was included in the lawsuit.
“Defendant’s actions in terminating Foley’s employment for refusal to act in contravention of Wisconsin Statutes were in violation of public policy and wrongful,” Bizzotto wrote.
Foley provided the court with documentation of his April 17, 2019, hiring and firing on Aug. 28, as well as correspondence from the chapter’s scout executive Tim Molepske. The latter does include other performance issues that Molepske stated to Foley aside from the raffle.
“You informed me repeatedly that you couldn’t handle more than one thing at a time. And that you had too much on your plate that you couldn’t handle,” stated the undated letter. “I tried gaining a better understanding of what was on your plate and you resisted informing me of what projects you were working on repeatedly telling me that I wasn’t getting it.”
The letter also stated that others working on the September fundraising event felt Foley was not contributing during meetings, infrequently communicated with them and was not building relationships.
Furthermore, the undated letter stated that Foley became obsessed with the raffle issue to the point he didn’t move forward with a plan for his position’s overall goal.
“Your job is to raise the funds for this council to reach its mission,” Molepske wrote.
But Foley’s lawsuit pins his firing to the chapter’s inability to legally hold a raffle drawing.
In August, Foley told Molepske and other fundraiser organizers that a raffle could not legally be part of the Sept. 5 event, according to the lawsuit. However, the group sought to still move forward with a raffle, but see if an element of skill could be added to it so it would be in compliance with the law, the lawsuit stated.
A few days after airing his concerns about proceeding with raffles without the ability to get a permit, Molepske put Foley on a 30-day performance improvement plan.
On Aug. 27, the two had a meeting about the rapidly approaching fundraiser and later that day they discussed Foley’s performance plan.
A copy of that plan included general requirements for improving communication, planning and accepting responsibility, as well as deadlines for specific tasks for several different fundraising events.
Among those goals was securing eight guns for a drawing and raising $30,000 at the Sept. 5 event. Foley’s lawsuit claims that dollar goal could not be reached without raffle sales.
The following day, Foley was fired in a letter signed by Molepske citing that his former employee had become “argumentative and insubordinate” during their meeting about his performance.
As of Friday, the local chapter of the Boy Scouts had not yet been formally served with the lawsuit.
Molepske did offer a written statement when asked to comment on Foley’s firing.
“The Boy Scouts of America takes all employment decisions very seriously and conducted a thorough investigation into this matter. Please understand that we cannot discuss the personal details of current or former staff or volunteers,” he wrote.
When the Boy Scout chapter is served with legal papers, they will have 20 days for their attorneys to provide a formal written answer to Foley’s claims in the case.