Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Townsend Sues Sheriff Shook

This is the REAL deal.

Today (13 June 2006), former Chief Deputy Paula Townsend sued Watauga County Sheriff Mark Shook for sexual harassment, as well as the county of Watauga. Direct quotes from her 11-page complaint follow below, but check back here early on Wednesday morn, as we hope to have the full text of the suit available as a PDF file.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 is invoked as the relevant controlling text ... wherein the key words "because of sex" or "on the basis of sex" form the axle that spins these wheels and by which the plaintiff can also sue the employer of Sheriff Shook (hence Watauga County's share in this mess).

Key words: "wrongful termination" and "intentional infliction of emotional distress."

Key dates: July 28, 2005, when Townsend "submitted a charge of discrimination on the basis of sex discrimination and retailiation" to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and June 12, 2006, when Townsend received a "notice of right to sue" from the EEOC.

Plaintiff alleges "that she was discharged because of her gender, and for refusing to comply with Defendant Shook's sexual advances, requests, and demands."

"Beginning on approximately December 31, 2002, Defendant Shook expressed to Plaintiff his interest in engaging in a personal relationship with her. After Plaintiff rejected Defendant Shook's advances, Defendant Shook began to assign the Plaintiff to work on assignments specifically with him. During various times while Plaintiff and Defendant Shook were working on an assignment, Defendant Shook continually expressed his desire to engage in a personal relationship with the Plaintiff. Plaintiff further contends that Defendant Shook touched her inappropriately in a sexual manner on several occasions. Plaintiff further alleges that Defendant Shook made sexual comments to her regarding his sexual fantasies and his past sexual experiences.

"Plaintiff contends that after rejecting Defendant Shook's advances and advising him that she felt his comments and conduct were inappropriate and unwelcome, Defendant Shook became offended and thereafter, negatively altered her work conditions. Plaintiff further contends that Defendant Shook ultimately terminated her employment due to her rejection of his sexual advances.

"Plaintiff contends that she made complaints to [County Manager] Rocky Nelson regarding Defendant Shook, however nothing was done. Plaintiff further contends that she was advised that the Defendant Sheriff was free to run his office as he pleased and that the County had no control over the office of Sheriff.

"Plaintiff contends that she was routinely subjected to offensive sexual harassment, in terms of the work conditions, privileges, benefits, and work environment. The Plaintiff contends that she is a member of a protected class and was harassed by her co-worker and supervisor based on her gender. The Plaintiff further contends that such harassment was unwelcome and was sufficiently severe or pervasive to alter the conditions of employment and to create an abusive and hostile working environment; and the employer knew or should have known of the harassment and failed to take prompt effective remedial action."

That's some of the guts of the case.

We also note that plaintiff is requesting a jury trial.

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