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Baltimore settles workplace harassment lawsuit with DOT employee

Baltimore has reached a settlement with a woman who alleged one of her supervisors in the Department of Transportation sexually harassed her and retaliated when she reported him.

A federal judge dismissed the case Thursday, citing a settlement reached between Rhonda Knox and the defendants.

Knox, a transportation enforcement supervisor, filed suit in U.S. District Court in Baltimore in May 2017 seeking $11 million and alleging Fabian Lewis, former deputy chief of the Safety Division, harassed her between 2013 and 2015.

In an emailed statement, City Solicitor Andre Davis said the city is “pleased that the parties were able to avoid protracted and contentious litigation by reaching mutually acceptable terms to resolve the case.” Davis said no details of the settlement could be provided as of Friday.

Knox’s attorney, Cary J. Hansel III of Hansel Law PC in Baltimore, did not respond to a request for comment Friday.

Knox claimed she was subjected to “lascivious comments, offensive touching of intimate body parts, and solicitation of quid pro quo sexual acts within the workplace,” according to the suit. When she reported Lewis, Knox said he made abrupt changes to her schedule, and she worried she would be fired during her probationary period following a promotion.

In August 2015, Knox took leave from work due to anxiety, according to the lawsuit, and was fearful of losing her job if she made a formal complaint. She reported Lewis’ alleged behavior in December 2015 and claims the chief of the department, who is also named in the lawsuit, created harsh employment conditions by changing her schedule and increasing her workload.

Lewis was the subject of multiple complaints and eventually given a letter notifying him he was being recommended for termination, at which point he resigned, according to the lawsuit.

Lewis filed a counterclaim in July, accusing Knox of subjecting him to “devious and heinous actions, including abuse, harassment, physical assaults, and inappropriate touching,” but the bulk of his claims were dismissed in November.

Lewis was represented by Bradley Scott Farrar and Dennis Whitley III of Shipley and Horne PA in Largo. Farrar did not respond to a request for comment Friday.

The case is Rhonda Knox v. Mayor and City Council Baltimore City et al., 1:17-cv-01384-JKB.

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