IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF OHIO WESTERN DIVISION
CASE NO.: 1:04 C V 572
COMPLAINT OF SEXUAL HARASSMENT AND GENDER DISCRIMINATION FOR COMPENSATORY AND PUNITIVE DAMAGES
JURY TRIAL DEMANDED
FILED: Aug. 26, 2004
REBECCA L. COLLINS,
MICHAEL K. ALLEN,
HAMILTON COUNTY BOARD OF
Cincinnati, Ohio 45202
This action is brought by a female assistant prosecuting attorney pursued by Defendant Michael Allen for sexual favors, Defendant Allen using the power and influence of his position to induce Plaintiff to enter into an alleged consensual affair with him. Any alleged "consent" was influenced by Defendant Allen's position over Plaintiff. After Plaintiff filed an internal complaint on August 12, 2004, pursuant to the policy of Defendant County and with the hope that the matter could be resolved without the necessity of litigation, Plaintiff believes Defendant Allen improperly failed to notify Defendant County of the allegations and instead attempted to discourage Plaintiff from pursuing the complaint by publicly acknowledging an "affair" on August 25, 2004. Defendant Allen failed to reveal, however, that the internal complaint of sexual harassment had been filed with his office. Plaintiff believes hei career as an attorney in Hamilton County, Ohio, requiring her attendance before judges of Defendant County, has been destroyed by Defendant Allen. Plaintiff believes that any clients she may represent in the future may question whether such judges will treat her differently than other attorneys because of the conduct of Defendant Allen.
Rebecca L. Collins is a citizen and resident of the State of Ohio, and
a loyal and dedicated employee of Defendant County and Defendant Allen.
2. Defendant Michael K.
Allen is the Hamilton County Prosecuting
Attorney, an elected official. At all times material hereto, Defendant
Allen acted both in his official capacity as agent for Defendant
Hamilton County Board of County Commissioners and/or in his individual
capacity, as well as in the course of his employment. He is sued
individually for damages and in his official capacity for equitable
relief. Defendant Allen is an employer within the meaning of federal
and state law.
3. Defendant Hamilton County Board of County Commissioners ("County") is a subdivision of the State of Ohio. Defendant County is an employer within the meaning of federal and state law.
JURISDICTION AND VENUE
This Court has jurisdiction to hear this case pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
1331 and 1343 because the case arises under the laws of the United
5. This Court has
supplemental jurisdiction over the state law
claims pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1367 because those claims arise out
the same set of operative facts, making them part of the same case or
6. Venue is proper in the Southern District of Ohio, Western Division, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1391(b), because a substantial part of the events giving rise to these claims occurred in the Southern District of Ohio, Western Division.
On or about August 12, 2004, 13 days before Defendant Allen publicly
acknowledged what he called an affair, Plaintiff filed an internal
complaint with Defendants alleging that she was the victim of sexual
harassment by Defendant Allen. This complaint was filed pursuant to
County policy and was a public record. Defendant Allen did not notify
Defendant County of the Complaint, which included the allegations in
this Complaint, and has denied its existence to others who have made
public records requests for the complaint.
8. In June, 1999, after
the end of her first year of law school,
Defendants hired Plaintiff as an intern in the Hamilton County
Prosecuting Attorney's office after an interview with Defendant Allen
for the internship. During the interview, Defendant Allen asked the
Plaintiff, "Do you want to work here?" Plaintiff responded, "Yes. I
haven't even looked for other summer jobs because I've had this one
lined up for a year." Defendant Allen then replied to the Plaintiff,
"Well if you want to work here, then you'll do what I tell you to do."
9. From June,
1999-through August, 1999, Plaintiff performed
duties as an intern in the Hamilton County Prosecuting Attorney's
office. She performed her duties well and was never disciplined.
10. In June, 1999,
during the course of her employment with
Defendants as an intern, Defendant Allen contacted Plaintiff, and asked
her to go to lunch with him. Plaintiff agreed, and they went to the
Plaza 600 restaurant in Cincirnati a few days later. Plaintiff felt
compelled to accept Mr. Allen's invitation, given his position of power
and influence, and her position as a new employee of the County.
1l. At that lunch,
Defendant Allen asked if Plaintiff wanted to be
a judge and said that most of the judges come from the prosecutor's
office, and that she "should stick around." He subsequently admitted to
Plaintiff in the context of their eventual relationship that he had
tried at this luncheon to make her laugh so that he could look at her
breasts and that he was glad she didn't catch him looking. Plaintiff
believes that Defendant Allen planned his subsequent relationship with
Plaintiff prior to this initial invitation to lunch.
12. In December, 1999,
shortly after both Plaintiffs grandfather
and father had died, Defendant Allen telephoned Plaintiff and insisted
on coming to see her at her apartment, to which Plaintiff reluctantly
and finally agreed.
13. Defendant Allen, who
knew Plaintiff was in a particularly
vulnerable emotional state at this time, came to Plaintiff's apartment,
appeared to be under the influence of alcohol, made sexual overtures to
her, and refused to leave her apartment until she had intercourse with
him. Plaintiff believed she had no choice but to obey Defendant Allen's
demands for sexual favors.
14. From December,1999
until August, 2003, and once more in
January, 2004, Defendant Allen used the significant power and authority
of his office, his political influence, and his superior age,
experience, and economic advantage to obtain sexual favors from
Plaintiff, and withheld promotional and other employment benefits and
opportunities from Plaintiff.
15. From August, 2003
until August, 2004, Defendant Allen
continued to pursue a personal and sexual relationship with Plaintiff.
Plaintiff always rebuffed these advances, except for one occasion in
January, 2004, when he took advantage of Plaintiffs fragile emotional
state at a time she was looking only for support and comfort, not a
16. From December,1999
through July, 2004, Defendant Allen
exhibited bizarre and erratic behavior in manipulating Plaintiff in the
pursuit of his own personal and physical pleasure, including, but not
limited to, making unauthorized entries into Plaintiff's residence in
her absence; making numerous and repeated unsolicited telephone calls
to the Plaintiff at her office and at her home; writing numerous,
unsolicited letters to the Plaintiff; and making unsolicited, unwanted
appearances at Plaintiff's home and office; all of which caused
Plaintiff great mental anguish and forced her to seek psychological
counseling, which continues to the present time.
17. Since December,
1999, and on numerous occasions thereafter,
the Plaintiff was subjected to numerous acts of sexual harassment.
19. Defendant Allen made
numerous unannounced and unsolicited
visits to Plaintiff's office, causing her to close and lock her office
door, in order to avoid Defendant Allen. Given Defendant Allen's
position of power, Plaintiff sometimes believed it was necessary to
allow him to visit.
21. From December 1999
through the present, Defendant Allen made
numerous unsolicited phone calls to Plaintiff's office phone, home
phone, and cellular phone, causing her to stop answering her phone.
22. By his
discriminatory conduct and harassment, Defendant Allen
thwarted Plaintiff's career path by discouraging her from taking other
positions, and by interfering when other positions were offered to her.
In addition, Defendant Allen prohibited Plaintiff from attending office
events, political party gatherings, and other activities.
23. In January, 2003,
one of Defendants' agents, a First Assistant
Prosecuting Attorney, told Plaintiff that she could go directly to
either the Municipal Division or the Common Pleas Division from her
position in the Appellate Division.
24. Because Plaintiff
was interested in the opportunity and
pleased with the fact that she was being permitted to skip Juvenile
Court, the normal next step, she informed Defendant Allen of the
25. Defendant Allen
blocked Plaintiff's promotion to the Municipal
Division or the Common Pleas Division, and forced her to accept a
position in the Juvenile Division.
26. Defendant Allen had
recently permitted a similarly-situated
mate employee, Scott Rubenstein, to skip the Juvenile Division, and go
directly to the prestigious Grand Jury Division, and then to the Common
27. Defendant Allen
entered Plaintiff's residence numerous times
without her knowledge or consent, causing her to feel afraid in her own
apartment, forcing her to change her locks in order to maintain some
semblance of safety and security.
28. Plaintiff advised
Defendant Allen numerous times that she
would no longer succumb to his sexual advances. Defendant Allen
disregarded Plaintiff's refusals and continued pursuing her.
29. In early 2004, after
Plaintiff terminated her relationship
with Defendant Allen, he mouthed the words "I love you" as he passed
her in the 7" floor back hallway, causing her extreme discomfort and
distress. Defendant Allen repeatedly asked Plaintiff for gifts, and
Plaintiff did provide a book to Defendant Allen to appease his requests
30. In early 2004, after
Plaintiff terminated the relationship
with Defendant Allen, he kissed her without invitation on the west
stairwell landing between the 7" and 8" floors, and she immediately
chastised him. In addition, Defendant Alien repeatedly called Plaintiff
on the telephone, and Plaintiff sometimes answered the phone or
returned his calls to appease Defendant Allen.
31. In April, 2004,
Defendant Allen forced Plaintiff to accept a
position in the Civil Division instead of the Municipal Division, the
usual next step for her career path.
32. Defendant Allen
coerced Plaintiff to maintain her office on
the 7" floor after her move to the Civil Division, even though other
Civil Division attorneys are on the Eighth Floor. Because of this, she
was physically removed from her co-workers and deprived of the benefits
of working closely with more experienced attorneys. She is currently
the only litigation attorney in the Civil Division whose office is on
the 7" floor.
33. In 2004, during the
time period in which Defendant Allen was
coercing Plaintiff to accept a lesser position, he repeatedly urged her
to come up to his office to "talk," reminding her that he had gotten
her "out of juvenile (division)." Defendant Allen requested Plaintiff
to send him pictures of herself, and Plaintiff did send some
"non-sexual" photos of herself to appease Defendant Allen, in the hope
that he would finally leave her alone. In addition, after Defendant
Allen "loaned" Plaintiff $500.00 in cash left in an envelope for her,
Plaintiff returned the money by writing a check to Allen, which
Plaintiff believes Allen has failed to cash.
34. On one occasion in
April, 2004, when Plaintiff came to
Defendant Allen's office as he directed, he began to fondle her and
attempted to become intimate with her. Plaintiff refused Defendant
Allen's sexual advances.
35. Numerous times since
December, 1999, Defendant Allen threatened Plaintiff, saying that "If I
go down, you go down with me."
36. Defendant Allen's
conduct has deprived Plaintiff of promotional
opportunities along with the resulting salary increases and other
benefits, on account of her sex and in retaliation for her rejection of
his sexual advances and her unwillingness to continue providing sexual
favors to him.
37. Plaintiff did not
welcome, encourage, invite or solicit the
above-described harassment. Instead, Defendant Allen coerced Plaintiff
to submit to his sexual advances in exchange for continued employment
and promised future career advancement opportunities. Plaintiff's
submission to sexual harassment was thus imposed on her as a term or
condition of employment and created a hostile work environment for
38. Further, Defendant
Allen withheld promotional opportunities
and other benefits from Plaintiff, gave her unfavorable work
assignments, and treated her unfavorably in the terms and conditions of
her employment because of her gender and her rejection of his unwelcome
sexual advances. Plaintiffs male co-workers received more favorable
working conditions and work assignments.
39. Plaintiff gave
Defendants notice of the harassment described
above by complaining in writing to Defendants' agent, Carl Stich.
Reporting sexual harassment to Defendant Allen would have been futile,
given his active participation in the harassment and the affirmative
steps he took designed to withhold Plaintiff's advancement in the
Prosecuting Attorney's office.
40. Defendants had
notice of the harassment described above because such harassment was
pervasive and obvious.
41. Defendants failed to
take remedial action in response to Plaintiffs complaints.
42. Defendants acted
with malice toward Plaintiff and without
regard for her constitutional rights by subjecting her to sexual
harassment and a hostile work environment, by denying her promotional
opportunities and favorable work assignments, and by otherwise
discriminating against her with regard to tenure, terms, conditions,
and privileges of employment, because of her sex.
43. Defendant Allen's
conduct described above had a substantial
detrimental effect on Plaintiffs employment and on her psychological
44. As a direct and proximate result of Defendants' actions as set forth above, Plaintiff has suffered loss of wages, loss of fringe benefits, loss of the opportunity to be able to continue the gainful employ in which she had been engaged for the prior years, loss of future earnings, loss of reputation, humiliation, embarrassment, and loss of self-esteem, adverse health effects, cost of relocation to seek other gainful employment, and loss of time and money in endeavoring to protect herself from Defendants' unlawful discrimination, including the costs and reasonable attorneys' fees of this action.
(42 U.S.C. 5 1983)
Sexual Harassment and Sex Discrimination
45. Plaintiff realleges
the foregoing paragraphs as if fully rewritten herein.
46. Defendants conduct
described above unlawfully and
unconstitutionally deprived Plaintiff of the equal protection of the
law, in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1983, because of her gender as
guaranteed by the Equal Protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment
to the United States Constitution.
47. Defendants' actions
were wilful, wanton, malicious, and/or in reckless disregard of
Plaintiffs constitutional rights.
48. As a direct and
proximate result of Defendants' discriminatory
conduct, Plaintiff has suffered injuries and damages for which she is
entitled to recovery.
49. Plaintiff is entitled to judgment pursuant to 42 U.S.C. g 1983.
(Ohio Revised Code Chapter 4112)
Sexual Harassment and Sex Discrimination
50. Plaintiff realleges
the foregoing paragraphs as if fully rewritten herein.
51. Plaintiff was
subjected to unwelcomed harassment by Defendant Allen while employed by
52. The unwelcomed acts
were directed at Plaintiff on account of her gender.
53. Because of the
unwelcomed acts, Plaintiff was forced to work in
a hostile, abusive work environment which, because of its pervasiveness
and severity, interfered with her ability to perform her duties.
54. Defendant Allen
deprived Plaintiff of promotional opportunities and favorable work
assignments because of her gender.
55. Defendant County was
aware that unwelcomed sexual harassment
was occurring due to the open and notorious nature of the harassment,
and did not take sufficient action to stop the harassment or prevent
56. Because of the
unwelcomed sexual harassment and gender
discrimination, Plaintiff has suffered severe, traumatic emotional
57. Defendants' conduct violates Ohio Revised Code 4112.02(A), and Plaintiff is entitled to judgment pursuant to Ohio Revised Code § 4112.99.
Plaintiff demands judgment against Defendants as follows:
(a) That Defendants be
enjoined from further unlawful conduct as described in the Complaint;
(b) That Plaintiff be
awarded all lost pay and benefits;
(c) That Plaintiff be
granted the promotions she was unlawfully denied or damages in lieu
(d) That Plaintiff be
awarded compensatory damages;
(e) That Plaintiff be
awarded punitive damages;
(f) That Plaintiff be
awarded pre-judgment interest;
(g) That Plaintiff be
awarded reasonable attorneys' fees and costs; and
(h) That Plaintiff be awarded all other (egal and equitable relief to which she may be entitled.
Randolph H. Feking
(#0009158) Sheila M. Smith (00065115) FREKING 8 BETZ
TRIAL ATTORNEYS FOR PLAINTIFF
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