Vicky Crawford Awarded $1.5 Million in Sexual Harassment Lawsuit
Former Metro Schools Payroll Coordinator Vicky Crawford was awarded about $1.5 million on her claims she was wrongfully terminated when she cooperated in a sexual harassment investigation of a school official. This is also known as retaliation. Crawford, who had over 30 years service with the school disctrict claimed she was fired because she cooperated in the investigation. Her lawsuit was initially dismissed by a federal judge and upheld on appeal. Last January, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Crawford v. Metro Schools, that Crawford could sue claiming retaliation even though she was not the one who brought the original sexual harassment claims. This was a landmark case and should help employees who have been fired for cooperating with sexual harassment investigations.
The problems for Crawford began when there was an investigation into sexual harassment claims against Employee Relations Director Gene Hughes. Crawford told investigators Hughes would ask to see her breasts, grab his crotch saying, "You know what's up," and on one occasion pulled her head to his crotch. Human resources officer Veronica Frazier assured Crawford she would be protected from retaliation if she came forward and helped with the investigation. In the end no action was taken against Hughes however on the same day Frazier turned in her report on the allegations, she also sent a letter to Metro Nashville's internal audit department informing them of concerns with the operation of Crawford's payroll department. Crawford was then fired.
"It's been a long, long fight. It's been very hard all these years, and we're very happy with the verdict," said Ann Steiner, Crawford's attorney.