Sexual harassment lawsuit filed against Armstrong County officials
An East Franklin woman has filed a civil suit against Armstrong County, its commissioners and emergency management officials alleging sexual harassment and discrimination.
Marci L. Creel, a longtime employee of the Armstrong County 911 Center, said in the suit that she was subjected to a “sexually hostile work environment” and harassed, demoted, and fired when she complained.
The lawsuit was filed Friday in U.S. District Court in Pittsburgh.
The suit says Creel suffered “severe humiliation, inconvenience, mental distress, embarrassment … as well as loss of income, fringe benefits, loss of reputation and loss of career opportunities.” Creel said 911 coworkers used sexually offensive language and references, watched pornographic videos and engaged in sexually suggestive conduct.
Named in the suit are 911 Coordinator Ronald Baustert, County Public Safety Director Randall Brozenick, Maryanne Koleny — at the time the county’s human resources director — and commissioners David Battaglia, Robert Bower and Richard Fink. The county is named in the suit.
On Sept. 20, 2012, Creel made a formal written complaint to commissioners, as well as Baustert, Brozenick and Kolney. Five days later, she was demoted from training coordinator to a dispatcher and quality assurance position, the lawsuit said.
In December 2012, she filed a discrimination charge with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, saying the defendants subjected her to a hostile work environment, failed to act on her complaints and demoted her in retaliation for her whistleblowing.
Creel said in the suit that Armstrong County 911 failed to provide her with working conditions that would accommodate a medical condition that affects her vision, while a fellow employee with the same condition received a special work station. Because of repeated requests for similar accommodations, co-workers made her: work in the dark during evening shift, kept information from her that she needed to do her job and wore dark glasses and made offensive comments about her disability, the suit alleges.
After Creel filed a second discrimination charge with the EEOC in 2013 about the county’s failure to provide her with reasonable accommodations in retaliation for her complaints, she said she was denied a promotion to a supervisor position. On Nov. 12, 2013, she was terminated for unsatisfactory job performance.
Creel is asking to be put back in her position, compensated for lost wages and benefits, be awarded compensatory damages and reimbursed for attorney fees.
Commissioner Battaglia referred all questions to County Solicitor Chase McClister or Human Resources Director Dan Lucavich. Neither could be reached for comment Friday evening. Bower, Fink and Creel did not immediately return calls for comment. Creel’s attorney, Nikki V. Lykos of Pittsburgh said she had no comment about the suit.
Julie E. Martin is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-543-1303.