Former Boyle EMS worker sues for sexual harassment, discrimination 

Published 8:06 am Tuesday, March 14, 2017

The Boyle County Fiscal Court is facing a lawsuit from a former employee of Boyle County Emergency Medical Service, seeking damages for sexual harassment, discrimination on the basis of his sex, retaliation, constructive discharge and breach of an implied employment contract.

The complaint was filed by Barbara A. Kriz and Zachary G. Gato, on behalf of James Gies. It alleges that Gies, who was employed by the Boyle County EMS as an emergency medical technician, resigned in February 2017 “due to a hostile work environment, which he reported to his superiors, but which was never properly addressed by his employer.”

The suit also names Judge-Executive Harold McKinney; magistrates Dickie Mayes, Donnie Coffman, Phillip Sammons, Jack Hendricks, Patty Burke and John Caywood; and Boyle County EMS Director Brad Ellis.

Gies, the complaint alleges, “was subjected to various forms of adverse treatment,” beginning in 2008. These included “bullying, hazing, unwanted touching of a sexual nature, and other forms of harassment and discrimination by employees of the Boyle County EMS.”

In August 2015, Gies reported these to his superiors at the Boyle County EMS, “in compliance with the Boyle County Employee Handbook,” according to the suit.

“Defendant Ellis met with Plaintiff Gies and stated he would keep Plaintiff Gies’ report of adverse treatment ‘in a folder on his desk’ rather than forward it up his chain of command,” the complaint states.

Gies allegedly questioned this, and “Defendant Ellis scolded Plaintiff for challenging his authority and thereafter retaliated against Plaintiff Gies by adversely treating him in the workplace.”

Gies was also “subjected to retaliation and harassment by his co-workers,” after reporting the matter, the compliant states.

In August 2016, after “failure to investigate and respond appropriately,” Gies hired an attorney, who sent a formal complaint to McKinney, who interviewed Gies. 

“Months after interviewing the Plaintiff, Defendant McKinney advised that his investigation failed to support Plaintiff’s allegations and no further action was taken by Defendants to insure that the staff of the Boyle County EMS was trained on appropriate workplace conduct.” 

The complaint states that Gies was never informed of his right to appeal their response. He was “again subjected” in December 2016 to “two instances of unwanted touching and inappropriate sexual conduct” by another employee, which Gies “promptly reported.”

No investigation was conducted, and Gies’ complaint was referred to the Kentucky State Police, the complaint states.

“Plaintiff was interviewed by a detective with the Kentucky State Police who specifically advised Plaintiff that he had no jurisdiction to investigate or respond to allegations of workplace misconduct unless it involves criminal conduct.”

The complaint argues that Gies’s rights under the Kentucky Civil Rights Act were violated, that the defendants failed to perform their duties and that due to the actions of his co-workers, Gies was forced to resign.

Gies is suing for monetary damages, attorney’s fees, and punitive damages.

Follow Kendra Peek on Twitter, @knpeek.

SO YOU KNOW

Boyle County Attorney Richard Campbell said these types of cases are typically referred on to the Kentucky Association of Counties to receive a counsel appointment, and he anticipated that would be what happens in this case as well. No other comment would be given regarding this case.