By Mike Scott
A former Clark County deputy has filed a complaint with the Missouri Commission on Human Rights against both Clark County and Sheriff Roy Gilbert, alleging that she was discriminated against because she is female.
Sarah L. Huston was employed by the Clark County Sheriff ‘s department from March 1998, until July 1, 2003. She worked as a dispatcher and was later promoted to Deputy Sheriff. The only female officer, Huston served as a school resource officer in the seven school buildings. in Clark County.
Huston’s complaint states that on or about June 17, 2003, Sheriff Roy Gilbert told her about a rumor that she was involved in an affair with then-Luray School Superintendent Greg Crowley while at a training seminar in California. Huston denied any personal relationship, stating that she had not been alone with Crowley at any point, and the she was with Deputy Simerl at all times on the training trip.
According to Huston’s complaint, Gilbert did not investigate the rumors further.
The complaint also alleges that the County Commissioners were aware that at least two male deputies were involved in sexual affairs. Neither was investigated, discharged or disciplined for their actions. One was eventually promoted to Chief Deputy, after his affair was made public.
The complaint further alleges that on July 1, 2003, the Sheriff’s wife visited the office and had a loud conversation with the Sheriff demanding Huston be fired. Gilbert fired Huston, citing “job performance issues.”
According to the complaint, neither Huston nor her immediate supervisor, Chief Deputy Joe Davidson, was aware of any job performance issues prior to her termination.
According the complaint, Huston alleges she was treated differently than male deputies, and therefore, discriminated against because of her gender. Further, the Sheriff’s
department failed to articulate a legitimate, non discriminatory reason for her discharge, adding that the actions “were willful, wanton, malicious and oppressive, and intentional, and without regard to the protected rights of Huston.” As a result, Huston claims she has suffered a substantial loss of earnings, job experience, retirement benefits and other benefits that she would have received. Huston also claims to have sustained damages including pain and suffering, emotional distress, embarrassment, humiliation and deprivation of her civil rights.
In her complaint, Huston requests that the Commission on Human Rights enter a finding that:
A. That Clark County did commit unlawful and discriminatory acts in violation of Chapter 213, RSMo.
B. That Clark County cease and desist such unlawful and discriminatory acts.
C. That Clark County take steps to protect Huston and other employees similarly situated from the type of conduct described above, and all other forms of gender related discrimination in the future.
D. That Clark County adopt and disseminate a gender discrimination policy that protects employees from discrimination in the workplace an that establishes reasonable and adequate procedures for investigating complaints of gender discrimination, and submit a report of th manner of compliance that will implement the purposes of Chapter 213, RSMo.
E. That Respondent (Clark County and Sheriff Roy Gilbert) pay a sum of money as actual damages for back pay, pain and suffering, humiliation, embarrassment and deprivation of her civil rights, plus pre-judgement interest
F. The the Commission enter an Order reinstating Huston in the position she would occupy and with all benefits she would have if she had not suffered adverse employment action attributable to discrimination based on gender, or award Huston front pay in the amount to be determined by the COmmission if reinstatement is determined to be impractical.
G. That this commission enter such other orders as it may determine to be just and proper under the circumstances of this cause.
The complaint was mailed to the county on May 21, 2007. The Missouri Commission on Human Rights is represented by and through its attorneys, Attorney General Jeremiah W. (Jay) Nixon and Assistant Attorney General Cyrus Dashtaki.
“There is a complaint pending before the commission,” Clark County Prosecuting Attorney Scott Summers confirmed. “It is in the very early stages, and there has been no discovery done at this time.”
“I have file a response on (the county’s) behalf,” said Summers. “But their insurance carrier has now mounted a defense, so I’m not sure who will be handling it.”
The Media called Sheriff Roy Gilbert for comment, but he was out of the office and did not return the telephone call by press time.