Lawsuit against county director alleges sexual harassment in the work place
FAULKNER COUNTY (KATV) —
The Faulkner County director of the Office of Emergency Management is being sued for sexual harassment by two employees; the county judge and an administrator are also named in the suit.
It’s an update to a story KATV reported on back in July, when four employees filed complaints with the county against Director Shelia Bellott. Two out of the four had also filed complaints with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
On Thursday, a federal lawsuit was filed after Bellott allegedly discussed sexual encounters in the work place, among other sexually explicit details.
Following complaints filed with the county, County Judge Jim Baker’s response was to relocate Bellott to another building instead of firing her.
“I'm speaking for Jim Baker here, not for me...the reason that he didn't fire her and avoid this type of lawsuit, is that she is one of the most recognized people in the state as far as expertise on handling emergencies,” said County Attorney David Hogue.
Hogue told KATV that Baker was still monitoring the situation.
"The judge has made it clear through the whole thing that there was never a final decision and that he was monitoring the situation - to see if there were more complaints, to see if there was anything else happening,” said Hogue. “The EEOC doesn't give a person an indefinite right to sue. It gives them a right to sue within a certain time frame."
It was a decision that left some uneasy, and potentially helped lead to a lawsuit.
"[Reporter: There's not a single other person in the state that could do what she does?] Oh there's plenty, we're all replaceable. There's plenty of other people that could do it, but why fire somebody who's been here that long and can do a good job if you can solve the problem that people are complaining about?” Hogue responded.
There is no word on just how much in punitive damages they're suing for.
KATV reached out to the plaintiff's attorney and Bellott. They both chose not to comment.