Crime

Union seeks pay for time Fayette jail officer spent testifying in harassment suit

The union that represents corrections officers at the Fayette County Detention Center has filed a grievance because city officials refused to pay one of its members for time spent testifying at a sexual harassment trial.

Cpl. Charlotte Trotter, the plaintiff in the lawsuit, was not paid for testifying in March even though the union's contract with the city says corrections officers are entitled to 1½ times their hourly rate of pay when testifying about matters involving their employment.

Instead, 32 hours of vacation time were used for time Trotter spent in the courtroom rather than at work, according to the grievance report obtained by the Herald-Leader.

The Fraternal Order of Police Town Branch Lodge No. 83 has said the city's refusal to pay Trotter amounts to retaliation.

Several other jail employees who testified during the four-day trial were paid for their time, including Maj. Michael Korb, a defendant in the case, whom Trotter accused of sexual harassment, city and union officials said.

On April 3, Trotter requested that her vacation time be restored. Her commander, Capt. Dwight Hall, initially approved the request. But Hall's decision was overturned April 19, and court pay was denied in a memo written by jail director Rodney Ballard.

"Per Janet Graham, director of (the city's) Law Department, your request for court pay is denied," Ballard wrote.

City spokeswoman Susan Straub said Trotter was not paid because it was her choice to sue and be in court.

"We don't pay people to sue us," Straub said.

Korb was paid because he was called to testify on behalf of the government, Straub said.

The lawsuit initially was filed in 2009 against the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government, former detention center director Ron Bishop and Korb. Trotter said she was sexually harassed by Korb and was retaliated against after she reported the harassment.

The case went to trial in March. A Fayette Circuit Court jury, in a split verdict, agreed that Trotter was sexually harassed but did not find that she was the victim of retaliation and did not find that evidence proved Korb touched Trotter's breast without her consent in October 2009.

The jury awarded $60,000 to Trotter.

According to a copy of the initial grievance report, which was filed last month, the union said the denial of court pay by the city and jail officials was "retaliatory." It said the jury's verdict proved the merit of Trotter's complaint.

However, the city has said in subsequent court filings that Korb was a "prevailing party" because the jury did not find that he grabbed Trotter's breast. It found that he created a harassing work environment, but it ultimately held the city responsible.

The city's attorneys have asked the court to throw out the jury's verdict or to hold a new trial, and have requested that it be reimbursed for Korb's legal expenses.

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