School officials knew bus drivers were harassed

February 29, 1992|By Michael K. Burns | Michael K. Burns,Staff Writer

Female bus drivers for Queen Anne's County schools were sexually harassed by the county bus supervisor, who demanded sexual favors in exchange for better pay and treatment, a state hearing officer has ruled.

G. Paul Emory, the former bus transportation coordinator, repeatedly made sexual advances to female drivers and gave them extra work for pay if they acceded, the hearing officer concluded in a complaint brought by the state Human Relations Commission.

John W. Hardwicke, the state's chief administrative law judge, ordered the school board to pay $28,000 in lost wages to two former bus drivers who were sexually harassed and to rehire one of them who was laid off in 1987.

He said school officials -- including then-Superintendent John Miller, a close friend of Mr. Emory -- were aware of the situation.

"The harassment of [two drivers] was so pervasive that management, at the least, had constructive knowledge of this activity," Mr. Hardwicke wrote.

Both Mr. Miller and his assistant were informed of amorous activities that frequently occurred in Mr. Emory's office, which had no door and was next to the assistant superintendent's office, Mr. Hardwicke noted.

The school board hired a private investigator, who reported in February 1989 that various drivers and other employees accused Mr. Emory of misconduct, but the bus coordinator was not disciplined. Instead, the board adopted a formal policy regarding sexual harassment.

School employees testified that Mr. Emory did not persist in sexual advances after charges were filed with the Human Relations Commission in late 1988.

One of the plaintiffs, Sharon Lynn Moore, said she agreed to Mr. Emory's advances at first and was favored with extra hours. She later objected, and she was given less profitable and less desirable routes, was not allowed to take her assigned bus home at night and was assigned to older buses with mechanical problems. Ms. Moore resigned in August 1990.

The other plaintiff, Martha C. Dawkins, was laid off in 1987 because she rejected Mr. Emory's attentions, Mr. Hardwicke decided. He ordered that she be given back her job.

"Emory's harassment occurred so pervasively, so frequently and with such traumatic effect that the psychological well-being of both plaintiffs was affected," he wrote.

Lee D. Hoshall, attorney for the Human Relations Commission, said the decision emphasized "that sexual harassment won't be tolerated in public or private employment."

Daniel Karp, the school board's attorney, said Mr. Hardwicke was swayed by the plaintiffs' emotional exaggerations. The school board had no knowledge of the misconduct, he said, but the law generally holds employers responsible for "the actions of a low-level supervisor."

County school officials and school board President William J. Rankin Jr. said they knew of the decision but had not yet read the 70-page opinion. Mr. Emory could not be reached for comment.

The board has not decided whether to appeal to the commission's appeals board, Mr. Karp said.

Baltimore Sun Articles
|
|
|
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.