- Associated Press - Wednesday, October 19, 2016

GRAND ISLAND, Neb. (AP) - The Hall County Board of Supervisors has approved a nearly $75,000 settlement with a former county corrections department employee whose lawsuit accused jail managers of sexual harassment and unfair treatment of female employees.

A lawsuit was filed on behalf of Sgt. Debb Rea in May saying her civil rights were violated by former corrections director Fred Ruiz and assistant director Jimmy Vann, according to the Grand Island Independent (https://bit.ly/2egBvxE ). According to the lawsuit, female employees were subjected to harsher discipline, referred to in an offensive manner, directed to engage in conduct for the directors’ sexual enjoyment and denied promotions to qualified female employees while promoting unqualified male employees.

Ruiz and Vann were fired by the board in August 2015 after Rea sent a letter to the board outlining her concerns and the county hired an attorney to investigate the jail. The letter was submitted after she was “constructively discharged” in 2015 after working at the jail for 30 years. The lawsuit asked for her to be reinstated to her former position at the jail, along with back pay and additional compensation for emotional and punitive damages.

A county response stated that Rea was offered her job back soon after Ruiz and Vann’s firing, but she declined the offer. Rea later asked for a jury trial but was denied because she was not entitled to one based on her claims, according to the county.

Hall County Attorney Jack Zitterkopf said the settlement includes a non-admission clause, meaning Ruiz and Vann don’t admit any wrongdoing.

“Basically this agreement resolves all claims among those four parties (Rea, Hall County, Ruiz and Vann) up to the date that the agreement becomes effective,” Hall County Attorney Jack Zitterkopf said.


Information from: The Grand Island Independent, https://www.theindependent.com

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