Former Garfield County Jail employee files suit | PostIndependent.com

Former Garfield County Jail employee files suit

Pete FowlerGlenwood Springs, CO Colorado

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado – A Garfield County commissioner’s daughter and former jail employee filed a lawsuit Thursday alleging she was wrongfully terminated for blowing the whistle on sexual harassment.Richard Dally filed the claim on behalf of Lisa Martin. Martin couldn’t be reached at a listing for her Silt address. County Commissioner John Martin – who’s also a defendant as a member of the Board of County Commissioners – also couldn’t be reached.The complaint names the Garfield County Board of Commissioners, Sheriff Lou Vallario and Jail Commander Scott Dawson as defendants. Lisa Martin worked at the Garfield County Jail as an inmate services technician from July 2003 to May 2007. According to the complaint, male supervisors including Dawson subjected her to unwanted and inappropriate on-the-job and off-the-job scrutiny regarding her personal life. It says they circulated gossip and rumors about an alleged intimate relationship Martin had with a male supervisor. It also says Vallario and Dawson asked Martin to falsify reports, budget documents and employment documents for the Garfield County Sheriff’s Office.Vallario said the lawsuit is absolutely frivolous and Martin’s false claims will not hold up in court.”Every now and then we have to terminate someone, and every now and again somebody’s going to disagree and file a lawsuit,” he said.He said the sheriff’s office has 145 employees.The complaint claims Vallario and Dawson retaliated toward Martin for her refusing to falsify the documents and for her complaining about sexual harassment, discrimination and poor inmate conditions in the jail. Dawson didn’t return a phone message.”Prior to plaintiff’s termination, Dawson repeatedly sexually assaulted plaintiff both on- and off-duty at and away from the Garfield County Sheriff’s Office,” the complaint states.It says Martin was terminated “under the pretext of insubordination” to cover up Dawson’s assaults.”For many weeks following the May 22, 2007 wrongful termination of plaintiff, Dawson then followed, spied upon, and stalked plaintiff, using Garfield County vehicles and equipment, and made repeated telephone harassment of plaintiff and her family at her home and places of employment,” the complaint says.There are three ongoing legal claims against the jail’s leaders by former inmates, but Martin’s is the first in recent history filed by a former jail employee.The American Civil Liberties Union filed a class-action lawsuit in 2006 alleging the jail violated prisoners’ rights by using threats and excessive force and punishing prisoners without due process.William Brent Huntley, a former inmate, filed a lawsuit in February claiming jail staff ignored his medical needs in 2006, leading to a fall that caused him to lose sight in one eye. Adam Burke, another former inmate, filed a lawsuit in January claiming he was subjected to inappropriately long hours in a restraint chair after being shot with pellets that release a chemical similar to pepper spray.Contact Pete Fowler: 384-9121pfowler@postindependent.comPost Independent, Glenwood Springs Colorado CO


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