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March 13. 2014 7:27PM

Salem Public Works employee says she was harassed

SALEM — The town of Salem intends to fight a lawsuit by a Salem Department of Public Works employee who claims she was harassed and discriminated against at her job after she complained about her supervisor showing her pornography.

The supervisor was eventually terminated in October 2011, but the town is disputing what led to his departure, according to court documents filed by the town.

Cynthia McDermott was hired by the supervisor, who is not named in the lawsuit, as a light equipment operator on or about Dec. 15, 2008 for the Department of Public Works, according to the woman's lawyer, Thomas Gleason.

About two years later, McDermott received "highly offensive pornographic images by a supervisor," court papers say.

McDermott reported the incident to the town. She claims her complaint set off an investigation that led to her superior being terminated in October 2011, the lawsuit says.

"Since reporting the incident, (she) has been subjected to continuous and repeated discrimination, harassment and retaliation including but not limited to offensive and derogatory comments, verbal insults, unfavorable job assignments, unfavorable conditions of employment, refusals to grant employment benefits and an unfavorable job review," Gleason said in the complaint.

After McDermott complained, she was not allowed to use a bathroom where she was working and told she had to use one elsewhere, the lawsuit says.

Town lawyer Brian Cullen said in a court motion responding to the complaint that the town "denies that there was any specific investigation into her alleged receipt of offensive pornographic material as her supervisor had been terminated by the time the town received her allegations."

The town also takes issue with McDermott's claim that she was treated differently from other employees or discriminated against after she complained about her supervisor. The town also says that the supervisor in question was terminated "during a general review of operations" of the Public Works Department.

A judge recently set a Dec. 9 trial date.

jkimble@newstote.com


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