John Scott Rose and his wife, Crystal Rose, say in the suit they filed May 20 that he was fired in “retaliation based upon his opposition to sexual harassment in the workplace and participation in protected activity.”
They also charge that co-defendants Terry Carter and Landon Burleson, who work for the Sheriff’s Office, unlawfully searched the Roses’ residence after Rose complained to the chief deputy of the Sheriff’s Office that two unidentified “Sheriff’s Department employees had made inappropriate sexual comments and/or suggestive communications with his wife.”
The Roses, now of Ozark, Mo., filed the suit in Tyler in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas. It seeks an unspecified amount of compensatory and punitive damages.
Longview attorney Darren K. Coleman, who filed the litigation on their behalf, said Thursday he did so May 20 and that the case has been assigned to U.S. District Judge Michael Schneider.
The Mirror contacted Coleman after learning of the lawsuit Thursday. Pct. 1 Comm. James Crittenden, who is presiding officer of the County Commissioners Court, said Friday he has contacted the Texas Association of Counties, which he understood will assign someone to represent the county in the case.
Crittenden declined further comment on the suit other than saying the county had not yet filed a reply to it. He also said he assumed Carter and Burleson will have to hire their own attorneys.
Carter was reportedly out on patrol, and Burleson was off work, when The Mirror attempted to contact them at the Sheriff’s Office for comment Friday morning.
In the 6-page lawsuit, Mr. Rose said he was a jailer for the Sheriff’s Office in late December 2009 when he “learned that two other Upshur County Sheriff’s Department employees” not named in the suit had made the inappropriate and/or suggestive comments involving his wife.
The lawsuit continues, “Rose lodged a complaint with the chief deputy. The chief deputy reportedly talked to the two offending employees. One employee reportedly admitted to inappropriate ‘online’ comments, but the other employee denied the complaint in spite of the existence of incriminating e-mails.
“Due to the harassment asserted against plaintiff in the workplace, plaintiff was reassigned to another shift different from the offending employees. The investigation into. . .Rose’s complaint was grossly inadequate,” the suit charges.
The lawsuit then goes on to make the following statements and accusations:
On Feb. 2, 2010, Crystal Rose emailed Sheriff’s Office “Captain Gary Roberts and complained that one of the offending employees was continuing to spread rumors and/or statements in the workplace about her and her husband.”
On the evening of Feb. 3, 2010, the Roses and their minor children drove into town to pick up medication for him and have dinner. Upon returning to their rural home, they saw two Sheriff’s Department vehicles outside the residence and, “not knowing what was going on. . .(Mr. and Mrs. Rose) parked their vehicle” and told their children to stay in it.
The couple approached their home and saw Carter and Burleson inside. The two men “appeared startled to see the plaintiffs,” exited the home, and Carter handed Mr. Rose a cell phone.
“Standing by on the cell phone” was Roberts, who informed Rose that he and his wife needed to be at Roberts’s office at 9 a.m. the next day. The next morning, Roberts and Sheriff Anthony Betterton met with Mr. Rose, and “Sheriff Betterton (misspelled “Batterton” in the lawsuit) then terminated” Rose.
“The offending employees were never disciplined,” the lawsuit adds.
The suit says Rose filed a charge of discrimination on the basis of retaliation and sex discrimination with the Texas Workforce Commission Civil Rights Division, and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on or about May 29, 2010.
On or about March 14 of this year, the U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division issued notice of right-to-sue authorizing the plaintiff to file in the federal court, the document adds.
The Roses sued under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, and for what they charge was an “unreasonable and unlawful search of their residence” without a warrant or probable cause. They allege the search violated their Fourth Amendment rights under the U.S. Constitution.