Thursday, February 28, 2008

Former 911 dispatcher sues former boss

A former Missouri 911 dispatcher sued the Texas County presiding commissioner last week, alleging sexual harassment that included physical restraint and grabbing and biting her breast.

Carol Wilson also says in the suit that Commissioner Don Shellhammer retaliated when she complained. Her work hours were reduced and she was issued unwarranted "write-ups." Shellhammer said, "I haven't done any of that" and said Wilson "is after money."

The suit says Wilson was subjected to "unwelcome sexual remarks and conduct" by Shellhammer in May and June 2006.

Shellhammer, the suit says, told Wilson he "was in lust with her," made "several offers" to take her to a hotel room, told her to come to his home "for a drink when his wife was not home," and "grabbed plaintiff and used physical force to restrain plaintiff while pulling off plaintiff's shirt and bra, and then bit plaintiff's right breast."

The suit says on another occasion Shellhammer hugged Wilson, stuck his tongue in her ear and squeezed her breast.

The commissioner said Wilson was in his home once because he invited her there to "pick something up." "I was trying to help her out," he said.

Shellhammer said investigators from the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission questioned him in the past. He said he believes their probe cleared him.

However, Wilson's lawyer said that the EEOC found cause to refer the case to the Missouri Commission on Human Rights, which issued "a right to sue letter." The suit seeks compensatory and punitive damages in excess of $25,000, lost wages and benefits and attorneys fees. It also asks for a court order "to prohibit defendant from engaging in further discriminatory practices." (info from Springfield MO News-Leader)

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