VERSAILLES — A woman who once worked for Kentucky United Methodist Homes for Children & Youth has filed a sexual harassment complaint against the Woodford County campus and her former supervisor.
In a civil suit filed last week in Woodford Circuit Court, Gerrica Morton says she was "subjected to sexual harassment in the workplace and retaliation as a result of rejecting the sexual advances" of her supervisor, William Earl Washington.
The suit claims that the Methodist Homes violated the Kentucky Civil Rights Act. Morton seeks a trial by jury and compensation for damages as alleged in the complaint.
The Rev. Randy Coy, president and CEO of the Methodist Homes, had no comment Wednesday. The Herald-Leader was unable to locate Washington for comment.
Morton started working as a case manager for Methodist Homes in February 2010 and she "consistently received glowing reviews" for job performance throughout her tenure there, the suit says. She was named "Staff Person of the Year" in September 2010, the suit says.
However, on numerous occasions, Morton was subjected to "highly offensive conduct" from Washington, "including, but not limited to, inappropriate sexual advances and comments of a sexual nature," the suit says.
Washington told Morton in September 2011 that he had developed "awkward feelings" for her, the suit says.
On or about Dec. 1, 2011, Morton reported multiple incidents of sexual harassment to human resources, including Washington's statement that he had "awkward feelings" toward her, the suit says.
Shortly after reporting that alleged conduct, Washington accused Morton of "creating problems in the workplace," the suit says. In October 2012, Morton was accused of making derogatory statements and hacking into Washington's computer system to see his email, the suit says.
In early November 2012, Morton reported to human resources that Washington continued to sexually harass her and "engage in unlawful retaliatory actions against her on a recurrent basis." She also expressed concerns to Washington's supervisors, the suit says.
On Nov. 16, 2012, Morton was fired because she allegedly "showed a lack of professionalism for being involved in a conflict with co-workers and for allegedly 'hacking' into" Washington's computer to access his emails, the suit says.
Methodist Homes never conducted a proper investigation into Morton's allegations as required by a handbook, the suit says.
In December 2012, Morton filed a complaint with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and with the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Human Rights Commission, the suit says. However, "due to a conflict of interest," she withdrew her claim from the human rights commission before it had rendered any decision as to the merits of the complaint. The suit doesn't explain the nature of the conflict of interest.
Morton, 41, formerly of Lexington, now lives in Tyrone, Ga.
The Methodist home has been in existence since 1871, when it started as an outreach to widows and orphans devastated by the Civil War. The home was originally in downtown Louisville but relocated to Woodford County in 1933.
In the 1970s the home transitioned from an orphanage to a treatment facility. The children who are on the Woodford campus today are in group and individual therapy.
The youths are placed there by the state, and they receive help so they can deal with the trauma related to the issues that caused removal from their homes.
The Versailles campus has contracts with the state to oversee the welfare and safety of the children who are 12 to 17 years old. After spending four to nine months there, the youths enter foster care, go to live with other relatives or transition to independent-living apartments in Lexington.
The Mary Kendall Campus in Owensboro, also operated by Methodist Homes, offers similar services.