In October 2009, Dawn Simpson filed a lawsuit against the city of Louisville after allegedly being sexually harassed and retaliated against by her former employer at Louisville Metro Animal Services. According to the suit, the former director of Metro Animal Services began sexually harassing Ms. Simpson shortly after she began working there in 2007. After Ms. Simpson complained to the second person in command, the suit alleges she was retaliated against by not being allowed to hire employees, make decisions on animal euthanasia, or utilize shelter volunteer coordinators. Her suit with the city of Louisville was settled this year for $287,000. Both men involved in the suit have resigned from their positions.
Ms. Simpson’s claim stemmed from her employer touching her stomach and making inappropriate comments about her physical appearance. Other examples of sexual harassment that create a hostile work environment include crude jokes or sexually explicit photos or pictures being visible in the workplace. Another type of sexual harassment is quid pro quo sexual harassment. In this type of harassment, an employee must provide sexual favors to maintain or improve his or her position, benefits, or salary. Employees often believe that if they perform the sexual favors they cannot file a claim, but this is not the case. If the employee felt they had to do it, a sexual harassment lawsuit can be filed.
In a new workplace lawsuit in Lexington, Kentucky, Cynthia Elliot has filed a claim against the Appalachian Research and Defense Fund of Kentucky (AppalReD) alleging she was discriminated against because of her race and gender. Ms. Elliott, who is black, also felt she was retaliated against for firing white employees when she was terminated in January. The AppalReD board states she was fired after an audit showed the agency had spent $1 million more than its budget over four years and because funds were allegedly missing.
Damages are being sought by Ms. Elliott for lost wages, emotional distress and depression, among other reasons. Damages of this type are considered compensatory because they are meant to “compensate” for a person’s loss. Punitive damages, which have not been mentioned in this case, are awarded to the plaintiff as a means to punish the defendant and to discourage similar behavior in the future. Another demand often included in harassment and discrimination cases is mandatory training for supervisors and employees regarding these issues.
Although these cases are different, they both highlight situations in which an employee felt they were treated unfairly and retaliated against by an employer. If you are in this type of situation and want more information regarding workplace harassment or discrimination, contact a Kentucky employment attorney. The attorneys at Miller & Falkner have over eight years of experience in assisting people with issues that arise in the workplace.
Animal Service Suit is Settled for $287,000; The Courier-Journal; Dan Klepal; October 13, 2011
Former Head of Eastern Kentucky Legal Aid Agency Alleges Discrimination; Kentucky.com; Bill Estep; October 13, 2011