FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — A state worker has sued the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, alleging sex discrimination and claiming that someone defecated in her office and urinated on her chair.
Sandy Sizemore Jackson is seeking compensation and punitive damages in the lawsuit she filed last week in the Franklin County Circuit Court. Jackson says she was overlooked for promotions in favor of men who were less qualified than her. And when she complained about it, Jackson said her supervisors retaliated against her by transferring her against her wishes to a doublewide trailer with one bathroom to be shared with three men.
Jackson said janitors twice had to clean up feces from her office floor. After reporting it, Jackson said her supervisors promised to look into it but she never heard another word about it. In March 2015, Jackson said she sat in her office chair when she "began to smell something funny." When she stood up, her pants were wet. Her supervisor told her to throw the chair away and order a new one. All of that contributed to what Jackson called a "hostile work environment."
"In fact, one employee told Jackson that she was in trouble because of her complaints and would soon be going away for a long time and would be wearing orange," Jackson's attorney, Cheryl Lewis, wrote in the complaint.
Transportation Cabinet spokesman Ryan Watts said the lawsuit's allegations pertain to a time when former Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear was in office.
"We look forward to getting to the bottom of it," Watts said.
While the Transportation Cabinet was the only defendant named in the lawsuit, Jackson places most of the blame on Mark Hoskins, a Beshear political appointee.
She filed a complaint against Hoskins and others with the Office of Civil Rights and Small Business Development, which investigated and found no wrongdoing. But Hoskins got a copy of the investigation through an open records request and shared it around the office, which led to further retaliation, Jackson said.
Hoskins, who no longer works for the Cabinet, disputes this. In an interview, he said he requested a copy of the investigation "to prove that some of the things she was saying were not true."
As for the feces in Jackson's office, Hoskins said "we honest-to-God could not figure out" how they got there. He said employees would often leave the back doors open during the summer, and it was common for dogs and cats to wander inside. He was puzzled about the urine in her chair, saying "several people smelled that chair and they thought it was water."
"We did immediately get her another chair," he said.
Hoskins said he requested a promotion for Jackson several times, but it was denied by officials at the Frankfort headquarters. He noted he recommended to Jackson earlier in her career that she could make more money if she switched to a job that had a lower classification but would ultimately lead to more promotions in the future.
"She was a troubled employee," Hoskins said. "She had had a lot of previous conflicts with other employees that continued after I got there."
Jackson did eventually get her promotion in December 2015. She was moved out of the double-wide trailer, which she said was infested with mold and made her sick.