Parkstone v. Coons. Dennis Parkstone had worked as a union laborer for New Castle County for over 35 years when he filed a wrongful termination suit against Coons.17 He was elected president of his local AFSCME union 9 separate times between 1981 and 2004.
Unfortunately for Parkstone, he also failed to politically support Coons, instead choosing to support two of Coons’ chief political rivals. According to Parkstone, he “encountered no problems in his
employment and was subject to no disciplinary actions” prior to Coons’ election as county executive.
According to court filings, Coons and his political supporters regularly complained that
Parkstone, as a union official in his personal capacity, had not provided sufficient political support or exposure for Coons. Coons was also allegedly displeased that he was forced to share the stage with a Republican rival at a union political event organized by Parkstone.
Parkstone claimed in his legal filings that Coons and his supporters within the government cooked up a disciplinary action against Parkstone for the sole purpose of getting rid of him.
They claimed that Parkstone had sent inappropriate e-mails via his county e-mail; Parkstone admits to sending an inappropriate joke, but notes that it was sent from a union computer, not a county computer. County officials later seized the union computer as part of their “investigation.” County officials then forced Parkstone to sign what he claims was a materially false Memorandum of Understanding regarding the incident and waive a number of his rights as an employee or he would be fired immediately.
While the Court found in favor of the defendants, they did so on the basis that Chris Coons as County Executive had the right to replace Parker for whatever reason he so chose. The point here is not that Chris Coons ultimately violated any laws, but that he used his power to punish anyone who dares oppose his cronyism machine.