Last 2 lawsuits settled against sheriff’s department
Harrison County has settled the last two of four separate lawsuits against the sheriff’s department totaling nearly $87,000.
The most recent cases settled were with Mary A. Ward, who was awarded $30,000, and Ray Byrne, $10,000. Earlier, Lina M. Misamore’s case was settled for $20,000 and Danielle Smith’s for $26,500.
‘Basically, the decision is one by the insurance company calculating the amount of risk the county has for potential settlement,’ said John E. Colin, legal counsel for the Harrison County Commissioners.
The claims of Misamore and Ward, both of Corydon, Smith of New Salisbury and Byrne of Ramsey were filed Sept. 6, 2006, in U.S. District Court in New Albany by Louisville attorney Charles W. Miller of Miller & Faulkner law firm.
Plaintiffs Misamore, Smith and Ward claim they were subjected to a sexually hostile workforce environment while working in the sheriff’s department, and that nothing was done to correct the problems when they complained to the sheriff or county commissioners.
Each of the plaintiffs filed complaints of discrimination with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which ultimately ruled each had a right to sue. Next, the U.S. Justice Dept. reviewed the cases, and in June of last year, notified the plaintiffs that it did not intend to sue. The claimants were give 90 days to file a civil suit.
Misamore claimed she was retaliated against for complaining about sexual harassment in the correction’s department, that the harassment was condoned by the sheriff, and that adverse employment actions, including ‘constructive discharge,’ were taken against her by supervisory personnel in the sheriff’s department.
Smith also claimed she was retaliated against for complaining about sexual harassment.
Ward claimed she was retaliated against for filing the discrimination charge and that adverse employment actions were taken against her for complaining.
Byrne, who formerly served as the jail commander, also filed a charge of discrimination against the sheriff’s department with the EEOC alleging that he had been subjected to adverse employment actions, including termination, in retaliation for engaging in ‘protective activities’ under the Civil Rights Act, ‘or alternatively, for defendant Deatrick’s perception’ that Byrne had assisted the EEOC in its investigation.
The plaintiffs alleged they were subjected to a ‘workplace of unwelcome and highly offensive conduct, intimidation, ridicule and insult of a sexual nature that was so severe and pervasive that it altered the conditions of their respective employment and otherwise created a sexually hostile working environment.’
The plaintiffs also claim ‘the sexually hostile working environment of the … department was one that a reasonable person would find hostile and abusive … ‘
The plaintiffs said the sexually inappropriate conduct of the defendants was reported to commissioners as well as the sheriff, but no one took steps to correct the situation.