Federal judge dismisses filing by jail major fired in sexual harassment case
A federal judge dismissed a case by a former Allegheny County Jail major who sued the county claiming he was wrongly fired for sexual harassment.
Robert Bytner, 57, of Bethel Park filed the lawsuit in December in federal court alleging reverse race and gender discrimination, age discrimination and a violation of his right to due process.
The claims were filed after the 300-day statute of limitations expired Sept. 6, 2016, so had be dismissed, federal Judge Nora Barry Fischer wrote in her opinion issued Monday.
Neither Bytner nor his attorney could be reached for comment.
Bytner, the jail’s fifth-highest official at the time of his firing, was employed at the jail between 2006 and November 2015, the lawsuit said.
In September 2015, Deputy Warden Monica Long filed a confidential report with Warden Orlando Harper, obtained by the Trib at the time , claiming Bytner had been sending her inappropriate emails such as one that read “nice gams,” which he apparently saw as he watched her on the surveillance camera.
Long moved in with relatives at an undisclosed location for her safety, she told county officials at the time.
When Employee Relations Manager Nicole Nagle accused Bytner of having sexually harassed Long, Bytner denied the complaint and said there was only “mutual joking” between him and Long, Bytner’s lawsuit said.
Warden Orlando Harper then contacted female guards to ask whether they had any complaints against Bytner, the lawsuit said. Harper questioned Bytner about his communications with guard Tanisha Ramsey, then, in November, fired him for allegedly sexually harassing guard Euwanda Eubanks.
Bytner’s lawsuit claimed reverse race discrimination because Bytner was the only white major at the time of his termination and because Harper, Long, Ramsey and Eubanks are all black. It also claimed reverse gender discrimination because female officers had “a disproportionate number of documented progressive disciplines and retained their employment,” according to the lawsuit.
The lawsuit also claimed age discrimination because one “substantially younger” white guard received but did not serve a five-day suspension for allegedly fondling a female guard and a different “substantially younger” white guard was suspended for one day for allegedly sexually harassing and inappropriately touching an inmate.
Bytner did not receive a Loudermill hearing prior to termination where he could have responded to allegations. Harper testified he could not recall another instance in which he did not give an officer such a hearing, the opinion said.
Allegheny County spokeswoman Amie Downs declined comment on the decision, but did say Long, Ramsey and Eubanks no longer work for the county.
Jail officials did not fire Bytner until several months after Long’s original complaint, suggesting the jail officials were lax in resolving sexual harassment claims, the Trib reported at the time. The jail is also violating a federal law intended to prevent sexual assault and harassment in jails, the Trib reported in June . Harper does not plan to bring the jail in to compliance with that law until 2020.
Theresa Clift is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Theresa at 412-380-5669, [email protected] or via Twitter @tclift.