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Veterans commission targeted in lawsuit

YOUNGSTOWN — A Lake Milton woman has filed a civil complaint in federal court charging the Trumbull County Veterans Services Commission of Warren with not taking action against an employee accused of sexual harassment, and then allegedly retaliating against the woman who reported it to supervisors.

An attorney for Adrienne Schneider of Glenwood Avenue, Lake Milton, filed the lawsuit seeking a jury trial, compensatory and punitive damages totaling $50,000 and reinstatement to her job at Veterans Services, from which she was fired in May 2020.

Kathleen M. Minahan, a Cleveland attorney representing the Veterans Services Commission, has filed a motion denying the allegations contained in the lawsuit.

Assistant Trumbull County Prosecutor Bill Danso said Minahan’s firm represents the county’s insurance carrier.

The parties to the lawsuit held a teleconference with a federal judge in Youngstown on Wednesday. Court records show that a jury trial was scheduled for U.S. Judge Benita Y. Pearson’s Northern Ohio District courtroom on April 10, 2023. Attorneys agreed to have another status conference on Sept. 14, with a final pretrial hearing set for March 15, 2023.

According to the complaint, Schneider was an administrative assistant who was allegedly sexually harassed by a male senior service officer. The man kept telling the woman she was “hot and sexy,” offered to buy her lingerie, asked her to send him nude photos of her, asked her to leave her husband, and threatened to lock her up as a sex slave.

When Schneider went to her superiors to report the harassment in February 2020, the lawsuit claims the officials in the Veterans Services office did nothing.

The complaint states Veterans Services terminated Schneider’s employment on May 7, 2020, without a legitimate business reason. The lawsuit claims she was fired in retaliation for her accusations of suffering from sexual harassment and declining her superior’s advances.

“Defendant’s actions amount to discrimination on the basis of sex through the creation of a hostile work environment,” the complaint states.

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