Knox County has reached a settlement on a lawsuit that was brought by a former Knox County Jail employee who alleged that she was fired after reporting sexual harassment from a male coworker.
Elizabeth Myers of St. George, who was 73 at the time, filed a lawsuit against Knox County in federal court in Portland in September 2021. Myers claims that she faced both sexual harassment and age-based discrimination while working at the jail.
The full details of the settlement were not available on Friday, according to the Courier-Gazette. An attorney for the case reportedly told the newspaper that the suit had been resolved, but a resolution had not yet been reached.
Myers began working at the jail as a part time corrections office in July 2017. Within her first year of employment, a male guard began sexually harassing her, according to the lawsuit.
Myers claimed that the guard made sexual comments to her and unwanted sexual advances, including touching her breast.
On one occasion, Myers said the male guard cornered her in a closet, closed the door and pushed his body against her.
She reported the incident and sexual comments the guard made to her supervisor, according to the lawsuit, but her complaint went unaddressed.
Instead she allegedly continued to face harassment from the male guard. The lawsuit also stated that Myers also continued to report the incidents to at least two supervisors, though she claims nothing was done following her complaints.
In May 2020, Myers was reassigned from the medium-security area of the jail to the minimum-security area where female prisoners are housed.
Myers said her supervisor did not give a reason for the reassignment. But the lawsuit claims that Myers was moved to the minimum-security area to replace the male guard after he allegedly sexually harassed a female prisoner, who reported the incident to a supervising officer. The male guard was reassigned to a medium-security housing unit, according to the lawsuit.
Myers was fired on June 2, 2020, after she was confronted by her supervisors regarding a Facebook message she sent to a coworker in which she expressed frustration that despite her reports about the male guard’s conduct nothing was being done to address the behavior.
The lawsuit also claimed that the supervisors accused Myers of creating a toxic work environment and terminated her employment.
The settlement comes nearly a month after Knox County settled a lawsuit filed by former prison guard Autumn Dinsmore, which alleged that the Department of Corrections discriminated against her on basis of sex and sexual orientation.