Officer Says Police Chief Harassed Her

     BUNKIE, La. (CN) — A female police officer claims in court that she was fired by the chief of police after resisting his sexual advances and retaliation, and despite several complaints to the city.
     Myra Fontenot is suing the City of Bunkie, a town of approximately 4,000 in Avoyelles Parish in the central Louisiana, Mayor Mike Robertson, Police Chief Bobby Corner and various police officers who she says knew of the harassment she was being subjected to, but did not stop it.
     As recounted in a complaint filed in the Shreveport Federal Court, Fontenot worked as an officer in the Bunkie Police Department, and over time held the positions of shift supervisor, payroll officer, Training Coordinator and Dispatch Supervisor.
     During her tenure, Fontenot says she was subjected to sexual harassment by Chief Corner in the form of sexual advances, jokes and comments, including being called inappropriate names with sexual innuendo, being told she smelled good, that she looked “fine” in her pants, and more.
     She also says the chief touched her in her “private areas,” the lawsuit says.
     Fontenot says that in May 2015 she complained to fellow officers about the harassment, and “advised by officers Victor Greenhouse, Jordan Santayo and Seth Juneau that if she refused any of the sexual advances of Chief Corner, and specifically, if she refused to have sex with Chief Corner, the extra positions she was assigned would all be taken away by Chief Corner.”
     In June 2015, Fontenot was assigned additional duties, and in July 2015 she was promised a raise to $13 an hour, according to the complaint.
     Later that month, Fontenot asked Corner to stop his unwanted sexual advances, the lawsuit said. Later still, Fontenot had to explain to Corner’s daughter that she was not going to be the child’s “third mommy.”
     Fontenot’s male coworkers said they had spoken with Corner about the harassment, the lawsuit said, but, still, it went on.
     In September, Fontenot and a female colleague who had also been subjected to unwanted sexual advances confronted Corner at a meeting. After their complaints, Corner refused to stop and instead “mocked these complaints, implying that both women were hyper-sensitive,” the lawsuit said.
     “Visibly upset from the earlier complaint against him, Chief Corner approached Fontenot in October, 2015, and falsely accused her of sleeping with another male officer, not wanting to ‘give pussy’ to him and that she ‘was fucking her way from the bottom up,'” the lawsuit said.
     Fontenot says it was then that she filed a formal complaint with the city.
     In response, Corner changed Fontenot’s schedule so she could no longer attend college classes in Alexandria.
     In November 2015, Fontenot filed a complaint for discrimination, for which Corner immediately began to retaliate against her.
     Corner took away Fontenot’s gun and left her with only a Taser, and he began to follow her around at night while she was on her shift, she says.
     Also, Corner allowed other officers to harass Fontenot by radio while she was on duty at the Marksville Police Department by overriding calls she made to other officers while on her shift.
     That same month, Fontenot was relieved of her duties by Corner. She complained to the mayor, who reinstated her, but Fontenot said in the complaint that she felt scared. She had heard Corner “say on more than one occasion that he would ‘blow up a mother fucker’ and blame it on his Post Traumatic Stress Disorder,” the lawsuit said.
     Fontenot continued to complain about the harassment, and the mayor offered to take her on at City Hall, but that “would have required Fontenot to relinquish all rights to her supplemental pay due her as a fulltime police officer, and, was, thus, retaliatory per se,” the lawsuit said.
     In May, after Fontenot revised her discrimination complaint to include retaliation, she was sent home by Corner. Mayor Robertson advised her to return to work, and told her that if she was sent home again, to go, but that she was to receive her regular pay.
     Fontenot says that as of June, she still had not been called back to work or fired, despite making a request to be told of her status.
     She went back to work on her own initiative on June 8, but upon arriving she was told she had been fired. She has still not received any termination or COBRA paperwork, the lawsuit says.
     Mayor Robertson did not immediately return a call for comment.
     The young woman who answered the telephone at the Bunkie Police Department Wednesday morning declined to comment, but offered to put Corner on the phone.
     Corner told Courthouse News that he had filed the EEOC complaint against himself on behalf of Fontenot “about a year or so ago,” but was unable to comment any further.
     Fontenot seeks damages for employment violations, including sexual harassment and unpaid wages, and for violations of the Louisiana Whistleblower Act. She seeks back pay, attorney’s fees and compensatory and punitive damages.
     She is represented by Allison Jones of Downer, Jones, Marino & Wilhite of Shreveport.

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