Woman’s suit against public defenders office moves to federal court
BY Teresa Auch Schultz email@example.com August 21, 2012 6:14PM
Updated: September 23, 2012 6:22AM
A Highland woman is suing her employer, the local federal public defenders office, claiming she has been harassed because of her gender.
According to a lawsuit, originally filed in June in Lake County but moved Wednesday to the U.S. District Court in Hammond, Debi Stout was first punished in 2011 after she told Jerry Flynn, the head of the Northern District of Indiana Federal Community Defenders Inc., that she could not support his effort to discipline the office’s only full-time female attorney.
Neither Flynn nor his attorneys could be reached for comment.
Stout, who had worked as an administrator in the office, was then demoted to legal secretary for that attorney, the suit claims and suffered from verbal attacks by Flynn, including yelling at her for taking a sick day.
“Although it was apparent that Stout was still ill, Flynn yelled at her, reminding her that he was the ‘boss,’ that he could fire her ‘without cause,’ ” the suit says.
After she filed a complaint with the board of directors for the public defenders, she was turned down for training, according to the lawsuit, and Flynn questioned her when she wanted to take a medical leave, asking her for information that other employees were not required to answer.
Stout says her doctors refused to let her return to work because of the stressful environment.
Stout is asking that she be returned to her position as an administrator with the same pay and that the public defender’s office either discharge Flynn or oversee Stout’s position with the office.