City employee sues The Colony after false sexual harassment allegations

Michelle Massey, East Texas Bureau Mar. 31, 2010, 8:58am

LUFKIN - After three years as The Colony's development services director, Donna Bateman was told that another city employee had made sexual harassment allegations against her.

As part of the city's investigation, the accuser was scheduled to take a polygraph exam, however instead of taking the polygraph exam he recanted his allegations.

Although the investigation ended, the city manager ignored the confidentiality of the investigation and revealed the statements and accusations made to other public employees.

According to court papers, Bateman felt that the city manager had possibly violated federal law and engaged in criminal conduct by revealing the details of the investigation so she reported his actions to the department directors of The Colony. Eight months later, Bateman lost her job.

Alleging she was terminated for reporting criminal conduct, Bateman filed suit against city of the Colony on July 21, 2009, in the 367th Judicial District of Denton County. The case was transferred to the Lufkin Division federal court in the Eastern District of Texas on March 25.

The lawsuit alleges Bateman was terminated because of the report in violation of Texas law, "which prohibits a state or local governmental entity form suspending or termination the employment of, or taking adverse action against a public employee who in good faith reports a violation of the law by another public employee in an appropriate law enforcement authority."

The plaintiff is seeking reinstatement to her former position, compensation for lost wages, reinstatement of fringe benefits and seniority rights, actual damages, court costs and attorney's fees.

Attorney Grace Weatherly of Wood, Thacker & Weatherly P.C. in Denton is representing the plaintiff.

U.S. District Judge Richard A. Schell is assigned to the litigation.

Case No 4:10cv00139

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