Embattled Cass County director answers questions amid complaint of hostile workplace

Published: Oct. 4, 2019 at 6:39 PM CDT
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A Cass County official is on the defense after being accused of creating a hostile workplace.

After days of not responding to our emails and calls, we caught up with a manager of the Child Protective Services, Linda Dorff, Friday morning as she was walking into Cass County Social Services.

“Josh, very respectfully I’m not going to comment on any of this. This is private. Thank you,” Dorff said.

“What about for the kids and families. Anything you want to say regarding that?”

“The kids and families are being taken care of and they're assessed as much as they can with the staff that we have,” Dorff said. “Thank you.”

An explosive complaint was made public this week after several ex-employees, including Jennifer Aldinger, accused Dorff and other social services managers of creating a toxic workplace.

“You want to give any comment to the former employee and what they said, that you were like being a bully and intimidating,” we asked.

“Jennifer [Aldinger] was here two months. I think you had your facts inaccurate, she was not here six years. She was here two months,” Dorff.

“Everything we put we got it from the report ma'am,” we responded.

The report stated Aldinger spent six years working in family services. She was employed at CPS from February 1, 2019 to April 21, 2019.

Yet, Aldinger wasn't the only employee to allege a hostile work environment.

In the report Ashley Peterson, who spent nearly 12 years working for Cass County, said she was fearful of Dorff during most of her time there.

Peterson accused Dorff of expressing anger and hostility.

Peterson also said Dorff went to her home and called her daughter a "pork chop" and would make fun of employees.

Rhonda Asleson spent seven year at social services working in a different department – economic assistance.

When she read that complaint, she knew exactly what was happening.

“I remember it hurt really bad to have to leave and it's really brought up bad memories, a lot of pain,” Asleson said.

Asleson said that a toxic work culture is spread throughout social services hampering people's ability to work.

“If I wasn't liked personally by somebody or if you do something wrong, you're getting pegged as a bad person or a troublemaker and the hostility starts,” Asleson said.

Asleson resigned in 2016 and three years later, she said nothing seems to have changed although she is optimistic that the pendulum is swinging and change will come after this complaint.

A special meeting is being held on Monday, October 21st at the Cass County Courthouses to discuss the allegations within the department.

Since 2015, there have been 89 people who either resigned or were terminated at Cass County Social Services, according to County Administrator Robert Wilson.