A Franklin Circuit Court Judge will decide which parties can be named in a sexual harassment lawsuit against the state and a former Kentucky lawmaker.
Two women have filed suit against former Representative John Arnold, the Legislative Research Commission, and state government. The women claim Arnold sexually harassed them, and the LRC didn't properly address their complaints.
Previously, the civil trial was delayed, as the Attorney General said the LRC and the state are the same and can't both be sued. And there's a question over whether the women are non-partisan LRC employees since they serve the body’s partisan leadership.
Thomas Clay is lead counsel for the women. He thinks they’re technically employees of House Speaker Greg Stumbo, who is also named in the complaint and has asked the court to be removed from the suit.
“I think they’re employed by the Speaker of the House, at least, for the House partisan staff,” said Clay. “Because Mr. (Bobby) Sherman—again, we can’t go into the details—but, there was some positions he took which I think are inconsistent with maintaining that LRC is in fact their employer.”
Clay has submitted new evidence that contains comments made by retired LRC executive director Bobby Sherman. At a meeting this fall, Sherman said the women are partisan employees, and therefore serve Speaker Stumbo.
Clay says the distinction can provide more than order in the case, because it will determine whether the women can receive back pay which they claim they’re owed. He did not specify the amount they should be awarded, and said that the issue could involve many more partisan LRC employees.
“If they are LRC employees, then they’re exempt from wage and hour protections from working overtime," said Clay. If they’re not LRC employees, then they should be entitled to benefits, receiving time-and-a-half for any overtime they work, which they work a lot of overtime and not been compensated.”
The next hearing in the trial is scheduled for Monday, Dec. 2. It's expected the parties being sued will be known after that.