Milton woman settles civil rights suit out of court
A former female employee of the Trumbull County Veterans Services Commission has settled her federal civil rights lawsuit against the county commission.
Adrienne Schneider of Lake Milton claimed in the lawsuit her civil rights had been violated because she was fired in 2020 in retaliation for sexual harassment claims against a supervisor.
U.S. Judge Benita Pearson of Northern Ohio District Court was notified during a pretrial hearing Wednesday that the parties reached an out-of-court settlement. The order from Pearson said the scheduled trial date of April 10 has been canceled.
Terms of the settlement were not disclosed.
Pearson, in her order filed Wednesday, asked both parties to submit a signed stipulation of “dismissal with prejudice.” Dismissal with prejudice means the case is completed and can’t be brought back to court.
Present at the pretrial hearing were the plaintiff, her attorney Daniel S. Dubow and the defendant’s attorney Kathleen M. Minahan and the veterans services representative Herman Breuer. Also present was the county’s insurance representative, Jeffrey Knapp.
Emails were sent to attorneys Dubow and Minahan for comment about the settlement, but they were not answered as of Thursday.
In the complaint, which originally was filed in January 2022, Schneider stated she was hired about March 11, 2019, by the veterans services commission. The complaint states that a manager in the office “continually subjected her to sexual harassment.”
One claim stated the manager told the woman she was “… hot and you’re so sexy,” and that her husband was in the way, and he needed to get rid of him. The manager also told her he wanted to buy her lingerie and asked that she send him nude photos of her, according to the complaint.
The supervisor “created and sustained an environment of severe and pervasive sexual harassment in the form of unwelcomed sexual comments, inappropriate sexual gestures and sexual advances.”
The plaintiff further alleged, “As a direct and proximate result of the intimidating, offensive and hostile environment created and sustained by defendants, Schneider repeatedly reported the sexual harassment to her supervisor both verbally and in writing.”
The lawsuit stated Schneider was terminated from her job May 7, 2021.
In a document recently filed, both sides agreed that the allegations of sexual harassment occurred regularly between September 2019 and Feb. 20, 2020, but stopped after Schneider reported the harassment to her supervisor on Feb. 20, 2020.
In a motion filed last month, defense attorneys stated she was laid off from her job as receptionist because of lack of work resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.
The commission “honestly and reasonably believed that a receptionist was not needed for an office that was closed to the public,” defense attorney Minahan wrote.
Because the defendant failed to take remedial action, the plaintiff alleged the commission ratified the harassment that Schneider suffered. The plaintiff had listed four claims for relief, including one under the civil rights federal code as well as another federal claim of retaliation.
Schneider had asked to be reinstated in her job as well as compensatory and punitive damages and court costs for emotional distress.