UW employee says boss harassed her, sues school
A University of Washington facilities management employee is suing the university, alleging it didn't do enough to protect her from a supervisor who she claims repeatedly harassed her about her sexual orientation.
Seattle Times staff reporter
A University of Washington facilities-management employee is suing the university, alleging it didn't do enough to protect her from a supervisor who she claims repeatedly harassed her about her sexual orientation.
The lawsuit filed in King County Superior Court this week states that James Lukehart, 56, began harassing Debra Loeffelholz, 53, by "inappropriately and pointedly" asking her if she was gay and, if so, that "she should not 'flaunt' it" within weeks of her starting work under Lukehart in April 2003.
The lawsuit alleges the university knew about Lukehart's conduct but didn't act until November 2007, when a superior told Lukehart he'd have to agree to a demotion or have his job terminated. Lukehart agreed to be demoted.
UW spokesman Norm Arkans said the school hasn't received the complaint and could not comment.
Loeffelholz claims Lukehart told co-workers she was "gay and overweight," and that on the grounds of her sexual orientation, he took measures to prevent her from advancing at the UW and attempted to have her fired or demoted, according to the lawsuit.
Loeffelholz wants compensation for the cost of mental-health counseling, emotional suffering, lost wages and attorney fees.
Lukehart, a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army Reserve, filed his own suit against the UW in March, claiming he was demoted because of his service in Iraq. Lukehart was deployed there from June 2006 until August 2007. Arkans reiterated Friday that the demotion had nothing to do with Lukehart's service in Iraq.
Lukehart says he is suffering from depression and requires medical treatment, according to his lawsuit. His lawyer, Sidney Strong, said he hadn't heard about the latest allegations against his client.
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Maks Goldenshteyn: 206-464-2374 or email@example.com
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