Suit alleges woman lost job after ending two-year affair

Michelle Massey, East Texas Bureau Dec. 2, 2009, 2:25pm

EL DORADO, Ark. � Working for a branch of the Arkansas Department of Education, an employee alleges she was forced to have an affair with her supervisor to retain her job. Two years later and saying she was overcome with guilt, she ended her affair and resigned her position.

Laura Creach filed suit against her supervisor, Bruce Terry, and their employer, Southeast Education Service Cooperative, on alleged violations of the Civil Rights Act. The suit was filed in the El Dorado Division of the Western District of Arkansas on Nov 30.

The plaintiff was hired by the co-op in June 2004 and continued to work there until April 2008, when she states that she was forced to resign her position due to continued harassment and the hostile work environment.

According to the complaint, Terry, the director of the co-op and Creach's supervisor, began making sexual advances not long after her employment began. The plaintiff states that she "ultimately succumbed to Terry's requests because she knew that refusing his requests would result in either a demotion or termination."

Creach claims that in the past, employees who refused the supervisor's advances were demoted. She states her relationship with Terry led to promotions and other work opportunities that would not have been possible if she had refused him.

However, after almost two years, "plaintiff could not endure the stress and humiliation anymore, and she ended the intimate relationship with Terry," the complaint states.

The lawsuit alleges that after the break-up the defendant became furious and began berating, defaming and retaliating against Creach.

She claims that her supervisor littered her personnel file with false documents, accused her of illegal access to computers and the building security code, reassigned her work-related duties, disallowed reimbursement for continuing education and refused to discuss her job related issues.

The plaintiff states that she filed a complaint with the co-op and an investigation was conducted that concluded that her supervisor had created a hostile work environment and violated the harassment policy.

Creach believes that Terry's actions were "intentional, willful and malicious, and in reckless disregard of Plaintiff's federally protected civil rights."

She also alleges the co-op permitted Terry's activities.

The plaintiff is seeking damages for front and back pay, loss of retirement benefits, declaratory and injunctive relief, compensatory and punitive damages, attorney's fees, pre and post-judgment interest and court costs.

Texarkana attorneys Louise Tausch and Brandon Cogburn of Atchley, Russell, Waldrop and Hlavinka LLP are representing the plaintiff.

U.S. District Judge Harry F. Barnes will preside over the litigation.

Case No 1:09cv01051

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