Just 50 miles east of Greenbelt is Queen Anne’s County, Maryland. That’s where wrongful termination litigation was recently settled between a former sheriff’s deputy and the county.
The former deputy and her husband will receive from the county and its insurance company $620,000. The former officer had accused Sheriff R.G. “Gary” Hofmann of retaliatory termination after she pursued criminal charges against the sheriff’s brother, also a deputy, for allegedly touching her in an inappropriate, sexual manner while the two were traveling alone in a police car in 2009.
The brother was charged with sexual offense in the fourth degree and found guilty. As part of a plea agreement, he was given probation and the court struck the guilty verdict.
The woman was fired by the sheriff in May of 2011.
She filed her lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland in August of 2012.
The settlement means the former deputy will receive $194,188.52 in back pay and interest, as well as $89,220.46 for back benefits. She will also receive $74,364 for front-pay, $2,227.02 for medical expenses and $260,000 for attorneys’ fees and expenses.
She had alleged that a hostile work environment existed in the sheriff’s department, where sexual harassment complaints in the sheriff’s office could only be made to the sheriff and his top deputy. As part of the lawsuit settlement, county policy will be changed to allow members of the sheriff’s department to take sexual harassment complaints to the Queen Anne’s County human resources department.
As part of the settlement, there was no finding and the county made no admission of wrongdoing.
Retaliatory termination allegations are often this complex, making the choice of employment attorney a critical one.
Source: MyEasternShoreMD.com, "Former QA's deputy to receive $620K in discrimination settlement," Trish McGee, June 5, 2014