Fired Monroe County road workers get $500,000

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- Road workers in Monroe County who say they were fired as political payback for supporting their boss's opponent have received a $500,000 settlement.

The 17 workers sued the county and Road Superintendent Steve Teague in 2010, claiming the terminations violated their constitutional rights of free speech and political affiliation. They said they were terminated for supporting Teague's opponent and to make room for Teague to hire his political supporters.

David Garrison, of the Nashville law firm Barrett Johnston, represented the workers. He said the county agreed to settle on Thursday after three days of trial in federal court in Knoxville. Garrison said the settlement gives his clients justice and sends a powerful message to public officials in Tennessee.

An attorney for the county did not immediately return a call.

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