Ex-dispatcher sues Jackson County, citing sexually hostile work environment

Michigan
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JACKSON, Mich. (WLNS) — A former 911 dispatcher is suing Jackson County, as well as her former supervisor, claiming there was a sexually hostile work environment during her time there.

Shannon Rutan worked for Jackson County Central Dispatch from 2008 to 2016. In the lawsuit filed earlier this year, she also claims county and her supervisor, Lieutenant Jason Hamman, retaliated against her for making claims of sexual harassment.

The hostility Rutan alleges in her lawsuit started in 2012, and includes numerous examples of comments and innuendo of a sexual nature.

Rutan also says she was named 2012 Dispatcher of the Year, and, after this award, was harassed by several coworkers, who suggested she performed sexual favors in order to receive the award. When Rutan reported it to her then-supervisor, he allegedly told her “ignore them, and they will go away.”

Rutan says the suggestion to ignore the alleged harassment was the response whenever she reported claims of sexual harassment.

She also says in 2016, she and another coworker were asked to take a seminar on bullying in the workplace by Hamman, which she says was retaliation for her filing the reports.

In a response to her initial complaint, Jackson County officials deny most of the allegations, calling many of them “untrue”, but not providing any detail.

The lawsuit states the alleged harassment continued into 2016, when, as a result, Rutan claims her doctor placed her on leave due to stress. During this time, she had a meeting with Hamman, where she asked what had been done to investigate the harassment. Hamman allegedly told her it was not her business whether or not anyone was punished.

Rutan also claims Hamman told her if she did not like the way the department was operated, “maybe dispatch is not the place for [her].” She says because the county did not assure her she’d be protected from further harassment, she felt she had no choice but to resign in April 2016.

Hamman and the county also deny these allegations.

Jackson County Controller Mike Overton declined to comment, citing pending litigation.

6 News also reached out to attorneys for the county, as well as Hamman, but have yet to hear back.

This story will be updated.

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