A former solid waste district coordinator for Erie County has filed suit against several different parties after she claimed she was “passed over” for jobs because of her gender, was sexually harassed, and was even wrongfully terminated. Lisa Beursken, 38, is the plaintiff in the case and has named the following as the defendants in the lawsuit that was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio:
- Erie County
- Erie County commissioners
- Erie County’s environmental services department
The Blade stated that Beursken began her position back in 2006 and worked up until June 8, 2017. She would receive praise for the good work she was doing, however, in 2015, she noticed that men with similar positions were being paid more. This prompted her to ask for a raise or promotion. The complaint she filed indicated that she was “earning approximately five to 10 dollars less per hour than the other superintendents all of whom were male.” She was the only female superintendent in the Defendant department.
The lawsuit also highlights that Beursken was passed up for jobs she qualified for and was even told by her supervisor, “You are a female and the County Commissioners would never hire a female in that position,” referring to a position she was interested in applying for. Beursken claimed she went and told Nancy Ostrander, the Erie County human resources director who simply brushed her complaints aside. Some of the other concerns she had were that Commissioner Pat Shenigo would often rely on the manager of the Erie County Wastewater Treatment Plant’s opinion to make decisions. He has been identified as Chris Decker, although he was not Beursken’s direct supervisor.
Without a promotion or raise and complaints being ignored, Beursken continued to work for the county. In May 2017, she ended up meeting Decker for drinks after work and when he mentioned to her that he wanted to take her on a date and she declined, he remained persistent. That same night, Beursken said Decker sent her text messages containing “lewd and suggestive descriptions of what he wanted to do to her sexually and how she would love it.” The next morning, he continued sending text messages and told her how he loved when she wore boots and that “when he heard them, he would watch her in the surveillance cameras in his office.”
Unfortunately, things continued on a downward spiral for Beursken after she experienced severe pain at work just days later after meeting with Decker that sent her to the emergency room. She informed her employer of the pain and was later told she would need surgery. The surgery was initially scheduled for May 25thbut was postponed to June 9th. Apparently, the doctors were given inaccurate information which caused the delay.
Then, on June 1st, Ostrander ordered that Beursken return to work despite the pain she was still in. When she returned to work on June 5th, she was told she had faked her illness and was placed on leave the next day. On June 8th, while awaiting surgery, she was notified by the county that she would be fired for “failing to return to work and failing to provide certification for her absence.” The lawsuit also states that Decker had moved into Beursken’s office.
Beursken is now seeking damages in excess of $75,000 for being subjected to the following: sex discrimination, sexual harassment, defamation, retaliation, and both interference and retaliation related to the federal Family and Medical Leave Act.
Whenever an employee is mistreated by an employer or even another co-worker and their complaints are disregard by human resources, the next step is to discuss the incident with an OH employment law attorney. However, in the event the incident involved an act of sexual misconduct, then it is best to discuss the matter with Akron, Ohio sexual harassment lawyer Benjamin Riek III. Too many workers are subjected to unfair treatment and oftentimes have their complaints disregarded by the departments that are expected to help them when the time comes that the assistance is needed.
You can reach The Law Offices of F. Benjamin Riek III at:
755 White Pond Drive, Suite 403
Akron, OH 44320