County: Alleged past harassments dealt with

Staff Writer
Geneseo Republic

Henry County denies the allegations in a civil rights lawsuit filed last week by the Department of Justice on behalf of a former county employee.

The suit alleges Michele Baze was sexually harassed by her supervisor, Jack Anderson, in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Title VII prohibits discrimination in employment on the basis of sex, race, color, national origin or religion.

“Henry County strenuously denies that there was a violation of Title VII,” according to a news release issued Monday. “Henry County has policies in place prohibiting sexual harassment of employees,” according to the release.

“When employees of Henry County have made complaints pursuant to that policy, those complaints have been investigated by the county and disciplinary action, if appropriate, has been taken against employees who violate the county’s policy.”

The release was signed by Julie A. Bruch, attorney for the county, and came from the O’Halloran Kosoff Geitner & Cook law firm in Northbrook. The release says the county learned about the Justice Department’s filing on March 6.

The suit was filed March 5 in U.S. District Court in Rock Island.

The suit says Baze became a secretary in the Henry County Animal Control Department around August 2004 and was subjected to sexual harassment including unwanted physical contact and inappropriate comments.

The complaint alleges the county had been aware the same supervisor had sexually harassed Baze’s predecessor but failed to take action to prevent him from harassing Baze.

The suit is seeking compensatory damages, and a jury trial has been requested.

Bruch’s news release said Henry County will have no further comment on this or any other pending litigation.