Two deputies with Williamson County Sheriff’s Office - one of which has since resigned - have filed a joint lawsuit against both the sheriff’s office and the Williamson County government, alleging that the sheriff’s office failed to prevent continued forms of harassment from staff.
According to the lawsuit, the two deputies were “subjected to sexual comments and actions that were objectively and subjectively offensive and which constituted a hostile work environment.”
The two deputies, Chelsea Emmons and Sheley Lindquist, both allege that the harassment came from the same male training officer during their time as officers in training in early to mid-2018. While not named in the lawsuit, a deputy by the name of Aaron Todd was fired from the sheriff’s office on July 27, less than a month after Emmons’ first complaint, with reasons for the firing being cited as “unbecoming conduct” and “sexual harassment.”
Lindquist, who is still employed with the sheriff’s office, alleges in the lawsuit that the male training officer would play “sexual radio stations” while on duty, repeatedly discuss topics sexual in nature, purposely make unwanted physical contact and had also suggested having a sexual liaison.
The lawsuit reads that Lindquist made a verbal complaint about the male training officer’s conduct on July 3, 2018, and thereon after, faced a difficult work environment due to her male coworkers refusing to speak to her during shifts, as well as being “denied the opportunity to advance her career by attending a certain educational program that male officers were permitted to attend, under the same or similar circumstances as [Lindquist].”
Emmons, who began working for the sheriff’s office on Jan. 2, 2018, submitted a letter of resignation on July 6, 2018 “due to fear for her safety stemming from the sexual harassment that she experienced.”
In the lawsuit, Emmons alleges the male training officer repeatedly invited her to his house after numerous rejections, as well as made a bevy of lewd comments. Comment examples alleged by the lawsuit include an instance where when Emmons bent over to pick something up off the ground, the male training officer said, “I can think of something I could bend you over on.” Another example was when Emmons was eating a pickle, the male training officer allegedly said, “I have a pickle you can put in your mouth.”
The lawsuit also alleges that the male training officer threatened Emmons that if she were to report his conduct, he would “turn it around and pin it on” her, as he was “well connected and popular.”
The lawsuit also recounts Emmons’ second to last day as a deputy, where on July 19, 2018, the male training officer “locked eyes with [Emmons] and stared at her in an intimidating and threatening manner - [Emmons] interpreted this behavior as an acknowledgement by the harasser of his awareness that [she] had made a complaint against him.”
The two deputies are seeking $300,000 each in damages, along with “back and front pay in accordance with their individual losses,” according to the lawsuit. Following a preliminary phase of initial case management, a court date will be set. Stick with the Home Page for the latest on this developing story.