BENTONVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — A former Benton County Jail employee filed a lawsuit against the sheriff’s office claiming both sexual harassment and wrongful termination.
Robin Heath worked at the Benton County Sheriff’s Office as a Deputy for 12 years before she was fired, according to the lawsuit filed in the Benton County Circuit Court.
Heath claims that a female Deputy reported an instance of sexual harassment committed by another Deputy, resulting into an internal investigation by Benton County.
The lawsuit reports that Heath came forward about her own experience of sexual harassment during the investigation.
According to the suit, Benton County Sheriff Shawn Holloway excused instances of misbehavior by multiple employees, which, “created a culture of discriminating against and intimidating females.”
In the lawsuit documentation, Heath makes the claim that, “the culture created by Holloway prevented victims like the Plantiff from speaking up for fear of retaliation.”
Heath was put on administrative leave in September of 2019 and fired five days later.
Holloway cited that the sheriff’s office had “lost confidence in [Heath] as an employee,” as the reason for the termination.
According to the lawsuit, Sheriff Holloway did not, at any time, discuss with Heath the behavior that cause him to “lose confidence” in her as an employee.
The suit also states that at the time Heath was fired she was the highest-ranking female working at the Benton County Jail and had never been reprimanded.
Heath and two other sheriff’s office employees were fired by former Sheriff Kelley Cradduck in 2015, however Justices of the peace ruled in favor of Heath and other employees after a grievance hearing took place and she was reinstated.
Heath is seeking an undisclosed amount in monetary damages as the harassment and termination are reported to have caused her to suffer, “loss of pay, pecuniary damages, damages for emotional distress and anxiety and other associated fees and costs.”
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