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Former court employee sues Baltimore clerk’s office for gender bias

A former employee of the Baltimore City Circuit Court filed a federal lawsuit against the clerk’s office Thursday, alleging she was fired in retaliation for complaining about sex discrimination.

Erica Lunn claims she filed complaints internally saying that the dress code for court employees was enforced unevenly and that female employees were forced to “pirouette” in front of a manager so he could assess possible infractions.

“This practice is demeaning, humiliating, and subjects female employees to a hostile work environment,” the lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Baltimore, alleges.

Lunn, a clerk in the juvenile division, claims she received write-ups for dress code violations for shoes that the clerk at the time, Lavinia Alexander, later confirmed were not prohibited.

Lunn was placed on administrative leave in 2016 for failing to comply with a policy requiring employees to notify their manager when they were to appear as a party or witness in court. Lunn claims that the policy was unknown among employees but that she did inform a supervisor about a court appearance.

“It is clear that Plaintiff engaged in protected activity by making allegations and reporting instances of discrimination, and that Defendant took adverse action against her by writing her up for a bogus dress code violation, and then putting her on administrative leave and ultimately firing her for a policy that was not known by employees, and was not enforced,” the complaint states.

A spokeswoman for the Maryland Judiciary did not respond to a request for comment Monday. A spokeswoman for the clerk’s office deferred to the judiciary.

While she was on administrative leave, Lunn filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. She was fired a few days later, on Dec. 27, 2016. The stated reason was violation of a company policy.

“Until Plaintiff was falsely written up for dress code violations, Plaintiff had a spotless employment record, and her employment was not terminated until she filed an internal discrimination complaint and then an EEOC charge,” the complaint states. “Plaintiff, by all accounts, was a hard-working, productive, and honest member of the Clerk’s office.”

Lunn filed a charge of discrimination with the Maryland Commission on Civil Rights, amended it and filed a subsequent charge with the EEOC, according to the lawsuit. She received a right-to-sue letter from the EEOC in December.

The lawsuit alleges retaliation and disparate treatment and seeks back wages, punitive damages, compensatory damages and injunctive relief.

Lunn’s attorney, Michael E. Glass, was did not respond to a request for comment Monday.

The case is Erica Lunn v. Clerk of the Circuit Court for Baltimore City, 1:19-cv-00729.

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