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Judge finds Macomb clerk Karen Spranger in contempt of court

Former Macomb County Clerk Karen Spranger
Sarah Cwiek
Michigan Radio

A judge has found Macomb County clerk Karen Spranger in contempt of court.

Circuit Court Judge Richard Caretti ruled Spranger violated a court order. Among other things, the preliminary injunction and a subsequent temporary restraining order prevent her from harassing or retaliating against employees who file grievances, or engage in union activities.

Spranger was forced to act as her own attorney and defend herself in court this week, after she placed a union employee on administrative leave. That employee, a member of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, had threatened to file a grievance over staffing issues.

Caretti ruled Spranger did violate the order in that specific way. He found her in civil contempt of court, but declined to penalize her for now.

However, Caretti warned that could change if Spranger violates the order again, writing: “Though the Court has not imposed sanctions against defendant for her current violation of the TRO, the Court strongly notes its authority to impose such sanctions should future violations be established. The Court stresses that the preliminary injunction must be scrupulously followed.”

The larger case filed against Spranger by AFSCME employees for allegedly creating a hostile work environment, among other labor-related allegations, is expected to go before the Michigan Employment Relations Commission early next year. It’s one of several court challenges Spranger faces, including one suit that could get her removed from office.

Sarah Cwiek joined Michigan Radio in October 2009. As our Detroit reporter, she is helping us expand our coverage of the economy, politics, and culture in and around the city of Detroit.
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