Two state employees who claimed co-workers hit them in testicles will each get $25,000

bestep@herald-leader.comJune 5, 2014 

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Two state employees will get $25,000 each in a case in which they alleged a supervisor and others hit the two in their testicles.

In addition, one of the employees, James Best, will get to transfer away from a highway maintenance garage where he had to work with people he alleged had abused and harassed him, said his attorney, Ned Pillersdorf.

The other employee, Josh Warner, transferred to another job earlier.

The defendants in the case were Kevin McIntosh, who supervised Best, Warner and others at the state highway maintenance garage in Lee County; employees Dale Deaton and Kenneth R. Morris; and Elizabeth Miller, an official at the Lee County garage.

The Transportation Cabinet will pay the $50,000, but did not admit liability, said spokesman Chuck Wolfe.

Best, an equipment operator, first complained to a Transportation Cabinet official last fall about abusive treatment.

In one case, Best said McIntosh and other workers spun him on a merry-go-round at a park, and then McIntosh hit him hard in the groin, causing him to fall to the ground shaking in pain.

Best said that in another instance, Morris squeezed him so hard that one of his ribs cracked, and that on another occasion, Deaton hit him in the face with a traffic cone, causing swelling and bruising.

When cabinet investigators looked into the allegations, other witnesses said it was routine for people in the garage to hit each other in the testicles or throw rocks at each other, raising welts at times.

Warner told investigators he had been wrestled to the ground by other employees and hit in the groin dozens of times, most often by McIntosh.

McIntosh acknowledged during a state hearing that he and others had taken part in what he called horseplay, and that he shouldn't have let such behavior go on. But he said he thought Best, Warner and others had taken part willingly, and that there was no intent to hurt anyone.

Cabinet authorities concluded McIntosh and others had violated policy and taken part in behavior that created a hostile work environment.

The cabinet disciplined six employees, including McIntosh, Deaton, Morris and Warner, who was accused of taking part in abusive behavior in addition to being on the receiving end.

Pillersdorf said U.S. District Judge David Bunning had said he found the conclusions in the internal investigation "scathing" and ordered mediation, which led to the quick settlement in the case.

Bill Estep: (606) 678-4655. Twitter: @billestep1

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