Former Clay County employee files harassment suit

Friday, May 24, 2002

LIBERTY, Mo. -- Some of Clay County's top administrators face a sexual harassment and discrimination suit from a former employee.

Shari Boulier, a county administrative assistant in 2000 and 2001, also says in the lawsuit field this week that the county retaliated after she complained about a hostile work environment and reported payroll and expense fraud.

"Boulier suffered intentional discrimination as a result of an intentionally sexually hostile environment at the hands of the defendants," the federal lawsuit contended.

County officials declined to comment on the lawsuit Wednesday. Boulier alleged that the county's director of information services, Bob Williams, sexually harassed her. She claims further that county administrator Gary Panethiere took no action when she notified him.

Williams, in turn, took no action when Boulier told him she had received obscene and offensive messages on her pager that she thought had been sent by his assistant, Matt Demski, the lawsuit alleged.

Boulier also alleged that Panethiere made a harassing phone call to her.

The lawsuit also alleged that county clerk Rita Fuller violated Boulier's rights under the Family and Medical Leave Act when she fired her in March 2001.

Panethiere, Williams and Demski, who is not a defendant in the suit, declined to comment. Fuller was out of town and could not be reached.

Boulier claims she was fired after complaining to her supervisors that other employees were filing fraudulent expense and payroll records.

Boulier asked for unspecified damages, reinstatement and attorney fees. She has also asked a judge to order the county to re-evaluate and enforce its sexual-harassment policy and to conduct sexual-harassment sensitivity training. The lawsuit further asks that the county's response to complaints of sexual harassment be monitored for five years.

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