A former Baltimore County jail employee has sued Baltimore County in U.S. District Court, alleging the county permitted a "systematic pattern of sexual harassment" by a former co-worker who also was her ex-lover.
In her $750,000 suit, Sherrie L. Heckel charges that James Dean, director of the county Bureau of Corrections, "acquiesced" to the harassment.
Mr. Dean, she alleges, also retaliated against her for filing a discrimination complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission by transferring her to a shift that put her into "even greater" contact with her former lover, who was not named in the suit.
Ms. Heckel, of White Marsh, was a correctional officer with the bureau beginning in August 1987. She said in her lawsuit that "sometime before 1992," and continuing until she left the department in 1994, she was harassed by the co-worker.
She said Mr. Dean ignored her complaints, and called her a "disgrace to the Department" for bringing her personal life into the workplace.
Ms. Heckel said in the suit that she had to seek psychological help to deal with the "intolerable" situation, and that she was forced to file a workers' compensation claim because of job-related stress.
She said in the suit that Mr. Dean denied her accident leave and refused to comply with a Workers' Compensation Commission order to return sick leave to her.
Mr. Dean could not be reached for comment.