A former Knox County Jail corrections officer claims she was fired last summer after she reported being sexually harassed by a male coworker.
Elizabeth Myers, 73, of St. George filed a lawsuit against Knox County in federal court in Portland Wednesday. Myers claims that she faced both sexual harassment and age-based discrimination while working at the jail.
In the lawsuit, Myers also alleges that the male guard who sexually harassed her did the same to a female prisoner at the jail.
Knox County Sheriff Tim Carroll, who oversees the Knox County Jail, did not immediately respond to a request for comment Wednesday afternoon.
Myers began working at the jail as a part time corrections office in July 2017. Within her first year of employment, a male guard began sexually harassing her, according to the lawsuit.
Myers claims the guard made sexual comments to her and unwanted sexual advances, including touching her breast.
On one occasion, Myers said the male guard cornered her in a closet, closed the door and pushed his body against her.
She reported the incident and sexual comments the guard made to her supervisor, according to the lawsuit, but her complaint went unaddressed.
Instead she allegedly continued to face harassment from the male guard. The lawsuit states that Myers also continued to report the incidents to at least two supervisors, though she claims nothing was done following her complaints.
In May 2020, Myers was reassigned from the medium-security area of the jail to the minimum-security area where female prisoners are housed.
Myers said her supervisor did not give a reason for the reassignment. But the lawsuit claims that Myers was moved to the minimum-security area to replace the male guard after he allegedly sexually harassed a female prisoner, who reported the incident to a supervising officer. The male guard was reassigned to a medium-security housing unit, according to the lawsuit.
Myers was fired on June 2, 2020, after she was confronted by her supervisors regarding a Facebook message she sent to a coworker in which she expressed frustration that despite her reports about the male guard’s conduct nothing was being done to address the behavior.
The lawsuit claims the supervisors accused Myers of creating a toxic work environment and terminated her employment.
In addition to the alleged sexual harassment, Myers claims that she was “mocked and belittled about her age” by both co-workers and superviors. She was frequently asked when she was going to retire, was told she was “too old” to work at the jail and was called “grandma or g-ma,” according to the lawsuit.
Through the lawsuit, Myers is seeking to be reinstated to her position or receive monetary damages in lieu of reinstatement. She is also seeking back wages dating back to June 2020.