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Lawsuit against Lewiston PD dismissed | News

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Lawsuit against Lewiston PD dismissed

Another lawsuit that was filed by a former employee of the Lewiston Police Department has been dismissed in Lewiston's Second District Court. Former dispatcher Melissa Taylor claimed that she was forced to resign due to harassment she allegedly suffered at the department after she made sexual harassment claims against a police officer.

According to a December 13th summary judgment by Judge Carl Kerrick, "Based on the foregoing analysis, the City's motion is granted because Taylor failed to give notice of her claims within 180 days from the date the claim arose or reasonably should have been discovered, whichever is later. In addition, summary dismissal is appropriate on alternative bases" including the fact that "there are no facts in the record which establish a claim for hostile working environment."

Earlier this month, a lawsuit filed against the City of Lewiston by former Lewiston Police Officer Andrea Thueson was dismissed in part because she did not follow the protocol for lawsuits filed against cities and counties, which requires that tort claims be filed prior to bringing of a lawsuit in court. Thueson was fired in early September 2012 for what her superiors claimed was insubordination and dishonesty, and the termination was upheld by an appeals board in late October 2012 following a public hearing.

Thueson's superiors had learned that she had obtained an Idaho Peace Officer Standards and Training document pertaining to a hearing officer's recommendation to decertify Lewiston Police Officer Rick Fuentes, and they claim she lied about where she had obtained it. In the suit, Thueson alleged one count of breach of good faith and good dealing, two counts of breach of contract, and one count of violation of whistle-blower protection for public employees.

In Taylor's case, she claimed she was forced to resign due to harassment she allegedly suffered after she made sexual harassment claims against Fuentes. The claims relate to an incident that allegedly took place at a private Halloween party at the airport in October 2010.

"Taylor's Claim for Damages asserts that since the date of the Halloween party Taylor had undergone harassment, discrimination, as well as disparaging treatment and thus, was forced to resign and obtain other employment. Further, Taylor asserts LPD knew Officer Fuentes engaged in conduct similar with other individuals and that LPD failed to protect the interest of Taylor," the court document states.

The summary judgment also states that after her voluntary demotion in February 2011, "Taylor fails to raise a material issue of fact to establish there was a continuing stream of tortious events which continued until her resignation in February, 2012. At deposition, Taylor testified that after she was voluntarily demoted, her coworkers and supervisors treated her well. Further, Taylor did not report any alleged harassment: she did not report the events of the party as harassment, nor did she report any pervasive on-going conduct that would be considered harassment during the totality of her employment."

The court document also states that "Any claim based upon discrimination or a hostile work environment requires a claim to be filed with the Idaho Human Rights Commission (IHRA) or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Both Title VII and the IHRA require a claimant to exhaust their administrative remedies prior to bringing a judicial action." The documents adds that there is no evidence in the record which establishes that Taylor filed a claim with either entity.

"Taylor's claim of hostile work environment does not survive because she failed to exhaust her administrative remedies, namely filing a complaint with the IHRA. However, in the alternative, Taylor fails to set forth facts which establish a material issue of fact on this claim. The Court does not discount the troubling events which transpired at the 2010 Halloween party; however, there is nothing else in the record before this Court which suggests that Taylor was subjected to sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature.

Further, because Taylor failed to report the events of the Halloween party to a supervisor, as required by the employment handbook, the City was not afforded notice of sexually harassing conduct which would have triggered the employer's duty to take prompt corrective action that was reasonably calculated to end the harassment."

A summary judgment is granted when there is no genuine issue as to any material fact, and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.



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