Appeals court upholds ruling against Bishop, Louisville

June 12, 2009 | | Comments 2

Ron Bishop, Director of Community Corrections in Lexington

Ron Bishop, Director of Community Corrections in Lexington

FRANKFORT — A three judge panel of the state Court of Appeals on Friday upheld a nearly $1 million retaliation and discrimination claim against the city of Louisville and Ron Bishop, who now heads the Fayette County jail.

Bishop was director of the Jefferson County Metro Corrections in 1998, when Kelvin Brooks and Donna Martin filed a lawsuit against him and the city.

Martin was the long-time human resources manager at the jail and was involved in the discipline of several officers who were accused of sexual harassment. Martin and Bishop disagreed on how those officers should be treated.

Martin alleges that once she expressed concerns about the way the cases were handled, she was subjected to verbal abuse and other forms of harassment.

Brooks alleges that he was disciplined several times for failing to shave. Brooks has a skin condition particular to African Americans that makes it painful to shave.

Martin alleges that she expressed concern over Bishop’s treatment of Brooks, which she says led to further harassment by Bishop, a charge that Bishop and the city deny. Bishop, she says, would sometimes refer to her as “Ms. ADA” or “Ms. EEOC” in staff meetings.

A jury decided in favor of Bishop and the city in 1999 but after Brooks and Martin appealed, the case was remanded for a second trial, where the jury sided with Brooks and Martin. A judgment was entered in excess of $1 million in August 2007.

Everyone involved in the case appealed the decision. The Court of Appeals decided to uphold the verdict but agreed with the city that Martin was not due more than $175,000 in back pay.

The court also decided that Martin should not be reinstated because she had retired and had a medical problem. Brooks, who is still working at the jail, should not be promoted as he requested, the court found.

The city will decide within the next week whether it will appeal the decision.

“We received this decision about mid-day today, and have not had a chance for thorough review,” said David Patteson, communications director for the Jefferson County Attorney’s Office, which represents the Louisville Metro Government.

Thomas Clay, a lawyer for Martin, said his client may choose to appeal the court’s decision not to award her back pay.

Craig Dilger, an attorney for Brooks, said his client was happy that the court upheld the decision.

“For my client, this case has never been about the money,” Dilger said. “It was that this type of behavior should not be tolerated.”

Bishop, through a spokesman, declined to comment on the decision.

Bishop was hired by Lexington in 2004. After leaving Louisville, Bishop worked for the juvenile justice cabinet before being hired by former Mayor Teresa Isaac.

His tenure in Lexington has not been without controversy.

Five jail officers were arrested for beating prisoners and then allegedly conspiring to cover it up. Three of the former officers pleaded guilty to federal charges last month. Several former inmates have also sued the jail over the alleged brutality.

– Beth Musgrave

Filed Under: Lexington Government

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  1. Clay says:

    Fayette County dust off the ole checkbook again.

  2. Postk49 says:

    Another great leader we have here in Lexington.