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Longtime Shelter Manager Files Discrimination Action – Says She Was Fired For Being Victim Of Domestic Abuse

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Carolina (Lina) Martinez
(Submitted Photo)

A longtime employee of Women and Children’s Horizons has filed a complaint with the Wisconsin Equal Rights Division alleging the agency fired her for being the victim of domestic violence. Carolina (Lina) Martinez has worked at WCH since 2011. The agency hired executive director Jennifer Paine just this year. Pain is a disbarred Michigan attorney who was recently accused of practicing law without a license.

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According to a filing by Ms. Martinez’s attorney, she was fired by Paine in August – ironically, for being a victim of domestic violence, the same type of women the agency is supposed to help.

According to the public document obtained by KCE:

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Ms. Martinez has worked at WCH since May of 2011. In her 12 years, Ms. Martinez rose to the position of “Shelter Manager” and “Rapid Re-Housing Coordinator.” Ms. Martinez was in charge of operating the women’s shelter and assisting with finding housing for women who has been victims of domestic violence.

Ms. Martinez herself was a victim of domestic violence and this was widely known by her employer and other employees. Indeed, part of why she was so invested in her role was to help other women who had suffered from the same experiences she had.

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On August 2, 2023, Ms. Paine sent an email to Ms. Martinez regarding overtime hours for staff of the Respondent. While the two were butting heads about the issue of overtime, there was never an indication that Ms. Martinez would be terminated for her work product. On August 3, 2023, Ms. Martinez was suspended from work and subsequently fired.

Ms. Martinez was in shock by her sudden termination, and found it necessary to continue the investigation as to why she was actually fired. After researching the issue, she found a document sent by Ms. Paine regarding Ms. Martinez’s termination. In the document, Ms. Paine writes: “I believe [Ms. Martinez] is committed to the DV support movement. She is herself a survivor. I often wonder if her over-reaction to basic things like working together to create a staff schedule is a reaction to feeling like she is being controlled.”

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Ms. Paine’s description of Ms. Martinez’s “over-reaction to basic things” invokes sex-stereotyping as it relates to Ms. Martinez’s history as a Domestic Violence survivor. Ms. Martinez was terminated due to her history as a victim of a domestic violence survivor, which is directly connected to her sex (female) and the sex of her abuser.

According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Ms. Martinez’s assertions that she was fired for being a female and her abuser being a male could hold water. According to its website the E.E.O.C. says:

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Title VII prohibits disparate treatment based on sex, which may include treatment based on sex-based stereotypes. For example – An employer terminates an employee after learning she has been subjected to domestic violence, saying he fears the potential “drama battered women bring to the workplace.”

The Wisconsin Equal Rights Division could take several months or as much as three years to decide on which actions to take. If they refuse to take the case, statute allows Ms. Martinez to then sue the organization.

Of course, no member of the board, or the director responded to multiple inquiries for comment.

Board Members

Nicole Rizzo, President
Attorney – Rizzo and Diersen
nlr@rizzolaw.com

Midy McTernan, Secretary
Teacher – St. Joe’s
mindymcternan@gmail.com

Carrie Kauck, Treasurer
Uline
ckauck@uline.com

Sandra Riese, Board Member
Retired Hospital Administrator
sandyriese@gmail.com

Clara-Lin Tappa, Board Member/Past President
Kenosha County Human Resources Director
claratappaphr@gmail.com

Darshayla Hayes, Board Member
Finance St. Joe’s
shay.hayes22@gmail.com

Zachary Dutter, Board Member
Pleasant Prairie Police Sergeant
zdutter@pleasantprairiewi.gov

Dineshi Burchi, Board Member
Gateway College
burchid@gtc.edu

John Plous, Board Member
Retired Court Commissioner
j.plous3@gmail.com

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39 Responses

  1. I hope Betty wins! It’s enough to be abused at home let alone in the workplace. The new boss sounds like a monster and shame on the board for not defending her.

    18
    1. Where is Sgt, Zacary Dutter of police dept. for standing up for right vs. wrong ? Just keep going with the other board members
      they are a woke crowd.

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  2. The shelter manager was actually one of the best things about WCH. She had multiple roles during her tenure which gave her great experience. She was fair and considerate when it came to listening to her staff and the clients. She cared for everyone’s wellbeing in that emotional high environment. She ran wonderful programs and helped so many. Since her departure, wchs shelter has really gone downhill rather fast especially under Paine’s management…it’s a shame not one wants to recognize it….

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  3. The board does nothing and says nothing because they have already stated in person, “As board members, they are only volunteers to WCH and that they do have full time jobs to attend to.” Sadly they allowed the new Executive Director who has only been there shy of 1 year to toy around with “Betty’s” life seeing this was her bread and butter. This was her full time job and was loyal to this agency. The board will do nothing because it is not a priority to them so needless to say they do not give a damn! I hope and pray that Betty as well as staff get some kind of justice and I pray for any past or current clients that are under the care of the new ED.

  4. The shelter manager actually cared not only about the victims but the staff. She had that place running amazingly and always had an open door policy. Once Jennifer Paine took over not only was it a hostile work environment but also extremely abusive. We brought proof to everyone on the board and absolutely no one would listen. She is a liar she is a demon and she will burn in hell for the way she treats people she shall reap what she sews! I hope she rots in hell! I just wish someone would listen. Get rid of her and bring back all the previous employees so that we can raise that place back up to help the community in the right way. Jennifer Paine is running out to the ground. Hate is a very strong word but that is exactly what I feel towards her.

    10
  5. Every dog has its day. Paine is a pain in my azz. Get her outta there and get someone who has the heart. Not someone abusing and looking for $$$

  6. Let’s be honest about the board members….they all have this on their resume so it looks good, not because they actually give two shits about what happens there.

    14
  7. The board members should ALL be held accountable for all of this. What happens when someone is severely injured or killed at the shelter?? Will they actually care or do anything then???? “Betty” was the best thing for that shelter. Once she was let go, the shelter did go to sh*t faster then I have ever seen it. Not to mention, funds not accounted for and now they won’t be getting grants from the Balance of State? WTH board members?!? When will you make a difference? When there is no shelter because Jennifer has depleted ALL the money and there are no employees to run it due to her actions and behaviors? Why wait til its too late???? Where are the answers for “Betty” and the other employees driven out by this monster????
    DO BETTER BOARD MEMBERS OR STEP DOWN (since you have lives and are “so busy” you can not respond to ANYONE) SO IT CAN BE SAVED!

    DOWN WITH THE BLOODY BIGHEAD!!!!

    12
  8. WCH: They do a great job assisting victims. Many times some advocates get too carried away promising outcomes that are unreal. Perhaps you should investigate how many employees left that place unhappy. Before it was even worse when a Kathryn Comstock was the executive director. It felt like working under the Taliban regime.

  9. The “Betty” real name in this article is actually ******** ********. (****) for short! Great person! Very well respected manager. Has a long history with WCH nothing but positivity! This is so saddening. Shame on the board and shame on Jennifer Paine! Wasn’t Paine accused of stealing money from families in Michigan?? And you people trust her here with funding???? Make it make sense please!!!

  10. I once volunteered a LOT of time plus donated a lot of money to an animal shelter which has a “board” acting this same evil way.
    Evil tragedies all the way around.

  11. I have a longtime admiration for this site, as it sheds light on stories the community would not otherwise know about. However, I have read 3 articles now (this being the 3rd) mentioning a specific board member that I have had a strong personal and professional relationship with for several years and each article alludes to this particular member as being unresponsive. Naturally, each article contains an array of disparaging comments by fellow readers. I’ve just read enough commentary about said member to know that the generalized opinion couldn’t be anymore farfetched. I am by no means privy to this whole Paine ordeal whatsoever, I just wanted to point out that there could very well be a reason that board members are not responding to media sources and that’s most likely due to the fact that it’s a personnel matter. Therefore, they cannot or should not comment. Regarding Paine, she no doubt has a contract and it makes releasing her all the more complicated.

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    1. Good morning G. Here is the real issue. Not ONE of the board members even acknowledged my emails or calls. A respectful person would say, “Hey Kevin, this is a personnel matter and I can’t talk about it.” or “No Comment.” Each response like this would be respected by me. Completely ignoring the media always suggest there is something to hide. In this case, the board is not playing its PR cards right. They signed up to be on the board but they don’t want to ask tough questins or make tough decision.

      15
      1. I don’t disagree with you. But I also don’t know what falls under the umbrella as their “roles and responsibilities,” so I can’t necessarily speak on it.

  12. Lina (miss boss lady) deserves all the credit for how that place use to run. She actually cared and loved what she did. Get rid of Jennifer and bring the boss back! She will have that place up and running properly

  13. I worked for WCH. Lina was my supervisor. During my employment, Jennifer suspended Lina and another staff member. Jennifer then took over shelter and within the 1st week that place was flipped upside down (within 1 week!). She knew nothing about shelter and to be honest, none of staff felt safe talking alone with Jennifer. She was mentally abusive which is why I left. Giving clients false hope. Showering them with material items then sending them back to where they came from. Paine hired a client to work in shelter once offering a pay every 2 weeks and never paid the client for her hours. Talk about work abuse?? Then kicked the client out of shelter, claiming she did not feel safe alone with her. The list goes on and on. This is all facts and there is visible proof of everything. I miss WCH and what it once was when I first started.

  14. I also worked at WCH under Lina’s direct supervision. Lina pretty much ran that entire agency even prior to Jennifer coming on board. Within the first few months of Jennifer being hired multiple staff members have had issues with her abuse of power. We had no one to turn to because no one would listen and we obviously couldn’t bring our complaints to Jennifer because she was technically our “abuser”. She refused to speak with you face to face and she was very accusatory and demeaning via emails. She would implement policies that didn’t benefit the mission of the shelter and created chaos within the shelter and the administrative building. It was a “lose lose” situation for all staff members involved. We even brought up our concerns to the board members which was pointless because they did absolutely nothing and never addressed anything. We even had somewhat of a 3rd party who was brought in to train on various topics , but it was sort of hard to learn anything when we were under so much stress. We were all there to protect the victims from their abuser, but who protected us? Lina tried and we saw that it ultimately led to her unfair termination. She was essentially fired because Jennifer wanted to be the only person in charge and she didn’t like when she received any criticism or constructive feedback even though she had a so called “open door policy”.

  15. Many of us that worked there, before we resigned or were terminated tried to protect clients from the harm the ED caused. She would make false allegations on clients, call CPS on parents, and just simply undo any progress made. Lina ran a tight ship and had plenty to show for it in the success of the clients in terms of them leaving shelter with employment and a safe home I don’t know if I can say the same now….

  16. I’m sure they’re talking about Jennifer Paine. Just look at her! And she sounds like a hot freakin mess! Could be she is using who knows. 🤷🏻‍♀️ She sounds like a very bad person. And poor Betty. I hope she gets justice!

  17. When and how will this get resolved? Jennifer and the entire board needs to go! DO NOT SUPPORT THIS AGENCY until this is resolved. She has gotten rid of anyone who knew more than her at this agency. She does not want to be challenged, everyone is afraid of her and the board continues to look the other way. It’s shameful. Where is all the money going? Who is she accountable to? Who is checking the finances besides her? So many questions and NO answers! I think they are all hoping this will all just blow over! This needs to stay in the news until some sort of resolution is put into place.

  18. Martinez’s case is bull crap and ridiculous. As much as Ms. Paine is a nutjob, there is nothing wrong with what she said and is very much a possibility. DV isn’t sex -specific and doesn’t rely on sex-based stereotypes.

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