Jackson City Hall Rocked by Harassment Suit

     JACKSON, Miss. (CN) — A former executive assistant’s sexual harassment lawsuit against Jackson, Miss. Mayor Tony Yarber paints a lurid picture of governance and campaign fundraisers intermingled with strip clubs and sex.
     Kimberly Bracey sued Yarber and the city of Jackson in Federal Court on Thursday, claiming he used his authority as mayor to demand sex and eventually fired her for resisting his advances.
     Yarber, a former city councilman, was elected in April 2014, becoming the youngest mayor of Jackson, the state’s capital. Bracey says in her lawsuit that the Democrat hired her that same month and they began a consensual sexual relationship in May.
     But when she ended it, Yarber, 38, transferred her to be supervised by other staff members and subjected her “to sex discrimination, sexual harassment, (and) a sexually hostile workplace,” according to the complaint
     “Yarber began forcing plaintiff to continue the sexual relationship by making clear that she could be terminated if she did not have sex with him,” the lawsuit states.
     Bracey says she was also subjected to inappropriate sexual comments about other women, including a request that she “encourage another female to give defendant Yarber oral sex in exchange for guaranteed employment.”
     According to the complaint, Yarber “engaged in numerous sexual relationships with other women,” and City Attorney Monica Joiner was pursuing a sexual relationship with him.
     Yarber called the lawsuit “vicious and scandalous” in an official city statement and said that Bracey was a “disgruntled employee.”
     “When appropriate, the City of Jackson, Mayor Tony T. Yarber and City personnel will seek all available remedies against Mrs. Bracey and possibly others, for this egregious character assassination and political ploy,” the statement said.
     Bracey says the harassment continued when, beginning in May 2014, Yarber required her to attend fundraisers with him where strippers routinely wore only body paint. At one in New Orleans in May or June of that year, she was “required to watch the door where Mayor Yarber and one of the strippers went into a room to be alone.”
     At another fundraiser in Atlanta between August and September 2014, Bracey says the host “arranged for a woman to have a sexual relationship with defendant Yarber.”
     “In early April 2015, plaintiff could not take the harassment any longer, and chose to refuse any further advances even if it meant her employment would be terminated.”
     She was accused of unauthorized use of city equipment for personal use and “abruptly terminated” by the mayor at the end of April 2015.
     “In truth, plaintiff was terminated for refusing the sexual advances of Tony Yarber.”
     “To plaintiff’s knowledge, there were two other female city employees who were terminated because they refused sexual advances from Tony Yarber while he was acting as the Mayor of the City of Jackson, Mississippi.”
     Bracey seeks compensatory and punitive damages for sexual harassment, retaliation and violations of the Electronic Communications Privacy Act.
     She claims city employees unlawfully accessed her email in a plot to have her fired.
     Bracey is represented by Jackson attorney Louis Watson Jr. of Watson & Norris.

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