Former employee seeks $5 million from county for alleged civil rights violation

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by Tim Troglen | Reporter Akron -- A former Summit County employee is asking a federal court judge to award her more than $5 million, claiming her civil rights were violated after she allegedly witnessed a fellow employee masturbating in his cubicle. Gabrielle J. Tyree, 70, of Akron, filed the civil complaint Oct. 22. She is also asking the judge to reinstate her job as an administrative assistant with the Summit County fiscal office. She lists Summit County, the county fiscal office and county Fiscal Officer Kristen M. Scalise as defendants, as well as a support services administrator with the fiscal office whom she claims she witnessed masturbating in October 2011. At the time of the alleged incident, the support services administrator was an auditor with the fiscal office. Tyree claims the incident "traumatized" her, forced her to seek "psychological treatment," and led to her retiring "at a substantial loss." She claims that on Aug. 1, 2012, she was forced to retire due to the actions of Scalise and the employee, and the county for "fostering an age and sexually hostile work environment." "As far as the complaint against me individually, and in my official capacity, I vehemently deny all allegations," Scalise said Oct. 31. "I did not violate any laws and followed all appropriate policies and procedures, and I will vigorously defend all claims in this frivolous lawsuit." The office of Summit County Prosecutor Sherri Bevan Walsh will represent the county in the case. "The Summit County Prosecutor's Office represents all elected officials in lawsuits pertaining to their official duties," Walsh said Oct. 31. "As the legal representative for Fiscal Officer Kristen Scalise and Summit County, it would be inappropriate for my office to comment on this pending litigation." Tyree alleges in the complaint that on Oct. 27, 2011, she was distributing employee mail, as part of her duties, and walked into the employee's cubicle. He "was masturbating at his desk in open view," according to court records filed by Tyree. Tyree, who had been with the fiscal office since 1985, was "traumatized" and "became scared and frightened, and immediately left the cubicle," she said in the complaint. After a vacation to "gather her thoughts," Tyree reported the incident to her supervisor on Dec. 7, 2011, according to the complaint. Tyree alleges the complaint was taken to Scalise who "took no action," Tyree claims. "I think it's an absolute shame that the county did not immediately terminate or relocate [the employee]," said Edward Gilbert, Tyree's attorney, Oct. 30. Tyree also alleges the employee mocked and teased her because of her age. Tyree said she was forced to use sick time and other benefits "per doctor's orders" while seeking "psychological treatment." On May 27, 2012, Tyree said, she was moved to another office off the premises and retired in August. Email: ttroglen@recordpub.com Phone: 330-541-9435

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