A lawyer for former Madison County Community Development Director Kristen Poshard said Wednesday that Poshard has filed a charge of sexual discrimination and retaliation against the county with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
The attorney, John Eccher, said that Poshard filed a sexual harassment complaint earlier this year with Madison County, and that she was retaliated against for doing so. The attorney did not provide details of the allegation of sexual harassment, saying he preferred not to “try this case in the press.”
County Board Chairman Kurt Prenzler declined to comment Wednesday.
Madison County State’s Attorney Tom Gibbons said: “Until the county has been served and we have had an opportunity to review any complaint, I have no comment.”
Poshard became the head of community development in March with a salary of $92,000. In April, the county board discussed giving her a raise to approximately $100,000. But then in August, she was placed on leave, and later fired.
In an email to the News-Democrat, Eccher wrote that he hopes the “case might send a message to the county’s officials that there is no place for discrimination or retaliation in the workplace or otherwise.”
“Frankly, this is one of the most clear-cut violations of employee rights that I’ve encountered over the past decade,” Eccher wrote. He said county’s officials “continue to refuse to take responsibility for their deplorable actions ... and not just that, they continue to punish her again and again, thinking that they’re above the law.”
Eccher said he expects the EEOC will take six months to investigate the complaint against the county, which is a prerequisite to filing a lawsuit. If the EEOC gives Poshard a right-to-sue letter, then Eccher would file suit, he said. He is confident he’ll receive one, but he hasn’t determined where he would bring the suit. If the EEOC does not give the right to sue, then he would pursue other options, he said. He added that he is also pursing other legal remedies.
The EEOC can’t issue financial penalties and award them to complainants, Eccher said.
“As an attorney who simply works to expose the truth, I can’t wait for this case to get into litigation so that the citizens of Madison County can understand what its officials are doing, and how they’ve repeatedly hurt Kristen and her family in ways that the law prohibits,” Eccher said. “I also can’t wait to explore how the county’s officials have engaged in the same reprehensible conduct against other employees who haven’t yet had the courage to come forward before Kristen, but might now feel safe to do so.”