Law Offices of David R. Jordan, P.C.
Attorney David R. Jordan, Gallup, New Mexico, announced August 9 that he filed a lawsuit on behalf of Tomicita Woodie against the Pueblo of Zuni, and, in particular, Zuni Governor Val R. Panteah. The Complaint alleges that Governor Panteah has engaged in multiple acts of abuses of his authority as Zuni Governor. "I have been targeted by Governor Panteah for vicious retaliation because I filed a grievance against him," Woodie said.
The allegations go back to a grievance that Woodie filed on January 12, 2021. In her complaint, Woodie alleged that Governor Panteah had created a hostile workplace for her by threatening her job. The threats related to the Hazard Pay for Pueblo of Zuni employees. Woodie was concerned that the Governor was pressuring her to immediately release pay without following the appropriate protocols and regulations.
The Zuni Council wanted to hire an outside investigator to determine the truth of Woodie's allegations. Woodie welcomed such scrutiny. "Governor Panteah panicked at the idea of an outside investigator looking into the toxic environment that he had created," Woodie said. "I just wanted the Council and the Zuni people to know the truth. Governor Panteah began that moment to make every possible effort to get rid of me and silence me."
This included sending an email to the entire governmental staff on June 2, 2021. This email was designed to place Woodie in a false light. The email repeated Governor Panteah's false accusations that Woodie had not acted properly with regard to hazard pay and was a part of Panteah's efforts to remove Woodie from her position and to eliminate any thought of investigating the toxic work environment allegations.
Ultimately, Governor Panteah informed Woodie's supervisor, Charles England, that England either fire Woodie or England himself would be fired. England bowed to this pressure and terminated Woodie's employment.
"From the moment I filed my grievance, Governor Panteah has been trying to silence me. He has created an atmosphere of fear and intimidation at the government offices. Anyone who even suggests that my grievance should be investigated rightfully fears that they too will be fired," Woodie said.
Woodie said that she is concerned that the Tribal Court will also be the target of intimidation now that her lawsuit has been filed. "I can only hope that I am given a fair day in Court," Woodie said. “All I have wanted from the beginning was an objective review of my grievance. The Zuni people deserve transparency in their government, and Governor Panteah is using fear and intimidation to quiet anyone who believes that his strong arm tactics are inappropriate."