The state Human Relations Commission has charged the Queen Anne's County school board with allowing a male employee to demand sexual favors from female bus drivers in exchange for rewarding them with better pay and treatment.
The commission formally charged the Eastern Shore school system with illegal sex discrimination involving two former drivers, but it claimed that others were involved in what it said is "an ongoing practice" of the transportation coordinator.
A lawyer for the school board denied the allegations, first brought to the state agency in 1988, and said the accused man remains "a trusted and valued employee."
The state's case is based on "hearsay and innuendo" from witnesses whom the agency has refused to identify, said Daniel Karp, who represents the Board of Education.
Michael Foreman, general counsel for the HRC, said he could "not recall a [sex] case as open and egregious as this one."
According to the charges, Martha C. Dawkins of Centreville said she was laid off as a school bus driver in June 1987 as a result of rejecting the persistent sexual advances of G. Paul Emory, the bus coordinator.
Ms. Dawkins said she sometimes took her children to the office to discourage Mr. Emory's advances and asked a relative with the state police to follow when she had to ride with Mr. Emory on night assignments.
Although the school system said that she was laid off because of insufficient funds, a male replacement with fewer qualifications was quickly hired, Ms. Dawkins charged.
Another complainant, Sherri Moore of Centreville, said she accepted Mr. Emory's overtures and received lucrative extra pay assignments from 1986 to 1987. When she rejected his advances in the summer of 1987, she received less favorable assignments and reprimands were placed in her file, Ms. Moore said.
Both women said they reported Mr. Emory's conduct to Charles Zakarian, assistant superintendent of support services, who allegedly told them they could quit if they did not like the job. County Schools Superintendent John E. Miller has always supported Mr. Emory, the commission stated.
Mr. Karp denied that the complainants had ever told Mr. Zakarian of alleged sexual harassment.
Mr. Emory said yesterday that he had no comment on the allegations, which are to be heard before an administrative law judge later.
The agency seeks back pay for Ms. Moore, who recently quit as a bus driver, and for Ms. Dawkins, as well as a schools policy against sexual harassment and discrimination.
According to commission charges, "Mr. Emory has an ongoing practice of making sexual advances to female employees and drivers under his supervision and of rewarding those who go along with or submit to his sexual advances."
County bus drivers could earn substantially more by making school field trips, which the commission said were awarded by Mr. Emory to women who did not reject his overtures. Ms. Moore's monthly earnings as a driver during the 1986-1987 school year averaged $1,500, more than other drivers, the agency said.