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Published: Sunday, 1/21/2007

Agency settles suit with lesbian bus driver

BY MARK REITER
BLADE STAFF WRITER

An out-of-court settlement has been reached in a sexual harassment and discrimination lawsuit fi led against the Fulton County Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities board by a bus driver who claims she was mistreated because she is a lesbian.

U.S. District Court Judge James Carr on Friday dismissed the civil complaint that Angela Dawn Tripp filed against the board and former Superintendent Daniel Pfahl.

The dismissal of the lawsuit, which was fi led in June in Fulton County Common Pleas Court and then removed and sent a month later to federal court in Toledo, was done at the request of Ms. Tripp s attorney.

Ms. Tripp, who lives in Delta in eastern Fulton County and is openly involved in a homosexual relationship, accused the board and Mr. Pfahl of creating a hostile work environment and engaging in discriminatory practices.

The lawsuit asked for $375,000 in compensatory damages and $500,000 in punitive damages from the defendants.

The judicial order didn t provide details on any settlement that was reached in the case and only stated the complaint was settled with prejudice. In the lawsuit, Ms. Tripp claimed Mr. Pfahl told her he did not approve of her lifestyle and that it was against his religion.

Other claims made by her include that Mr. Pfahl gave her poorer reviews than other employees doing a similar job, that he required her to pay phone charges that were not billed to other employees, and made it known in the workplace that it was OK to harass and ridicule her.

Brenda Oyer, who is the current disabilities director, said the settlement didn t involve the payment of money to Ms. Tripp, who resigned from the board more than a year ago.

She said that attorneys representing the board told her the case was resolved and the plaintiff cannot refi le the lawsuit in court.

We are very glad to have this situation brought to a close, and we can move forward, she said.

Ms. Tripp and her attorney, Cathy Killam, could not be reached for comment.



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