Sexual harassment lawsuit against Kenton Co. clerk's office dismissed

COVINGTON, KY (FOX19) - Kenton Circuit Judge Greg Bartlett has dismissed claims of sexual harassment filed against the Kenton County Clerks' Office by two current and one former Deputy Clerk.

Nichole Johnson, who was terminated from the Clerk's Office in November 2008 after approximately six months on the job, claimed that she was the target of unwelcome sexual conduct by former Chief Deputy Clerk Danny Miles.  Deputy Clerks Tammy Gray and Bridget Feinauer made similar claims.

The women originally sued Miles and former County Clerk Rodney Eldridge, but their claims were converted to claims against Kenton County after each individual defendant was dismissed by Judge Bartlett.

The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky at Covington had already dismissed Federal claims brought by the same women based on the same evidence.  They then filed in Kenton Circuit Court.

"Although the federal lawsuit arose out of the same facts as the case herein, the Findings of Judge Bertlesman are not binding on this Court.  Nonetheless, this Court makes the same Findings of Fact and Conclusions as a matter of law," Bartlett wrote.  "The alleged conduct of Deputy Clerk Miles – if accurately reported – was inappropriate, offensive and unprofessional, but was not so severe or pervasive to constitute actionable sexual discrimination under the Kentucky Civil Rights Act."

The Court also noted that none of the Deputy Clerks ever bothered to report the allegedly offensive conduct to Clerk Rodney Eldridge, despite the existence of internal policies which met all legal requirements for reporting and investigating such complaints.

Assistant Kenton County Attorney Jason Reed defended the lawsuit for Kenton County at the Federal and local levels.

Reed noted that former Deputy Miles, and Clerk Eldridge, both vigorously denied the allegations of wrongdoing.

"There was substantial doubt about the accuracy of the plaintiffs' reports," he noted.  "Employee after employee after employee testified they had never witnessed the type of conduct these ladies said existed in the office."

The plaintiffs were represented by Eric Deters, of Independence.  Deters has preliminarily indicated that he will appeal the Court's decision.

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