Judge nixes harassment lawsuit against N.E. Minnesota county
DULUTH A judge has ended a lawsuit brought by a former St. Louis County employee who alleged sexual harassment by a county commissioner and other county officials. In a decision filed Monday in federal court in Minneapolis, Judge Ann Montgomery b...
A judge has ended a lawsuit brought by a former St. Louis County employee who alleged sexual harassment by a county commissioner and other county officials.
In a decision filed Monday in federal court in Minneapolis, Judge Ann Montgomery backed St. Louis County's motion to drop the case filed by Ellen Quinn, the county's former communications director.
Quinn still can file an appeal with the U.S. Court of Appeals. She declined to comment on the judge's ruling.
Twin Cities attorney Thomas Marshall called the judge's decision "the proper result. We think this is the only way it should have ended.''
County commissioners hired Marshall to defend the county in the case after
County Attorney Melanie Ford declared a possible conflict because some of
her assistants might be called as witnesses in the case.
Quinn, the county's former public affairs spokeswoman, first filed allegations of sexual harassment against Commissioner Steve Raukar of Hibbing in 2007. An investigation upheld her claims, though no action was taken.
The lawsuit claimed Quinn was the victim of a years-long string of sexually obnoxious behavior and later intimidation and scorn by several commissioners and other county officials.
The lawsuit, served on the county in May 2009, also claimed breach of contract, defamation and emotional distress under state common law and says the county's actions also violate the Minnesota Human Rights Act and the Family and Medical Leave Act.
Quinn says she was essentially forced out of her job as retribution for reporting the actions of county officials.
The suit also claimed that Quinn and others were subjected to "various forms of bizarre treatment and comments" when they tried to raise objections to the "sexist and sexually inappropriate" conduct of male county employees and officials. The suit claimed she was repeatedly asked to "go out dancing, drinking and partying" with various county commissioners.
Quinn alleged that Raukar asked to come to her motel room to have sex on a February 2007 out-of-town trip. An independent investigation determined the allegation probably was true, but no action was taken against Raukar.
The sexual harassment case originally was headed to state district court. But last year Marshall was successful in moving the case to federal court to take the case because it involves the federal Family Medical Leave Act.
In the decision, the judge said that the Act did not apply in Quinn's case and does not require her to receive pay for missed work due to conditions she attributed to the harassment.
The Duluth News Tribune and the Herald are Forum Communications Co. newspapers.