Former jailer files discrimination suit
By LPR Staff
Citing harassment, discrimination and retaliation, a former Caldwell County jailer filed a suit in Federal court last week, seeking unspecified monetary damages and reinstatement to her position.
Katharina Harper was terminated from employment with the Caldwell County Jail in August 2009, after just over two years of em
ployment. The petition filed by her attorney last week alleges that termination, along with a demotion and other disciplinary action taken prior to her dismissal, stemmed from a report she made in May 2009, after having seen two other employees engaged in “lewd sexual acts in a common, public area of the jail.”
Upon making the report, Harper alleges, her then-supervisor “punished” her by sending her home early. Two days later, she was written up for reporting the alleged misconduct. Her petition says her co-workers then began to joke with her about “disrupting the ‘good ole boy’ status quo.”
She was then demoted from corporal to officer, and suspended for three days.
Harper alleges that, upon suspending her, Caldwell County Sheriff Daniel C. Law told her, “…you are not in control here. I don’t have to answer to nobody [sic].”
On May 12, 2009, she filed a complaint with both the Texas Workforce Commission and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, accusing the leadership at the Caldwell County Jail of discrimination and retaliation, suggesting her demotion and suspension were a direct result of her complaint about the other officers’ conduct. Her request to be reinstated to her position of corporal was denied.
On or about July 24, 2009, Harper said, she received a certified letter asking her to provide information about a disability which she claimed to have, suggesting that disability was not disclosed in her initial employment package.
That disability, she said, is the learning disability Attention Deficit – Hyperactivity Disorder. Harper claims that she made her supervisor aware of the disability during her training in July 2007, and in fact, her co-workers made it a habit of calling her “Hyper Harper.”
She claims the disability did not impact her ability to do her job, saying she was named both “New Employee of the Year,” and “Correction Officer of the Year.”
Still, she said in her petition, the ADHD, and her failure to disclose it when she applied for the job, was the main reason she was given for her termination.
Harper maintains otherwise, suggesting she was fired because of the scrutiny she brought to bear in making the complaint regarding the alleged sexual misconduct. She also claims that she was treated in a “disparate” or unequal manner by her male coworkers, was retaliated against for reporting the alleged sexual misconduct, and that she was discriminated against because of her learning disability.
She has asked the court to reimburse her for past and future lost wages, emotional pain and suffering, punitive damages and attorneys fees, as well as reinstatement to her position.
Neither Law nor Caldwell County District Attorney Trey Hicks returned calls or emails requesting comment this week. Hicks did, however, say last week that Harper’s complaint to the Texas Workforce Commission had been dismissed.