By Jeff Lehr
A former deputy is suing the sheriff of Jasper County and other members of his department, claiming she was called “Brownie” and “Gomey” in reference to her Hispanic lineage.
She also alleges she was sexually harassed by supervisors and co-workers during her 19 months on the job.
The lawsuit was filed in Greene County Circuit Court on behalf of June Castillo, 29, who currently resides in Illinois, but worked at the Jasper County Sheriff’s Department from January 2006 through July 2007.
The lawsuit alleges not only racial discrimination and sexual harassment but also invasion of privacy and retaliation on the part of higher-ups in the Sheriff’s Department. Castillo claims she was wrongfully fired July 31, 2007, for keeping a doctor’s appointment related to a worker’s compensation claim she filed.
The racial-discrimination portion of the suit states that co-workers referred to her as “Hernandez” as well as “Gomey” and “Brownie,” and asked her “how long it took her to swim to the States.” When an interpreter was needed by officers, she was asked if she could get “a Gomey or a Spic,” the lawsuit alleges. The racial slurs and insults were made in the presence of supervisors who took no steps to deter them, the lawsuit maintains.
During the course of her employment with the Sheriff’s Department, Castillo underwent cosmetic surgery to have her breasts augmented, the lawsuit states.
Following the procedure, she allegedly faced sexual harassment from male co-workers and supervisors, one of whom told her he liked them and asked if she needed a larger bulletproof vest. The lawsuit states that another supervisor asked her if they were soft and advised her to be cautious since their size might cause her to fall. A third allegedly stated that he wished to feel them.
Castillo was injured on the job in December 2006 and filed a worker’s compensation claim with the state. The claim led to an invasion of her privacy and her eventual discharge, the lawsuit maintains.
When she took time off in February 2007 due to a sick child at home, the Sheriff’s Department allegedly assigned an officer to investigate whether her child was, in fact, sick. The officer “climbed through shrubbery” at the plaintiff’s home and “looked in her windows,” went to her children’s school to obtain personal information, drove past her relatives’ homes and made “unwarranted” phone calls to her family members, according to the lawsuit.
When she later kept doctor appointments related to her worker’s compensation claim, she was fired, Castillo alleges.
Sheriff Archie Dunn did not return a telephone call seeking comment Wednesday afternoon.
Castillo filed a complaint with the Missouri Human Rights Commission and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in May of last year, according to the lawsuit. The Department of Justice issued a notice of her right to sue in April of this year.
Springfield attorney Les Boyle filed the lawsuit on her behalf.
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