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Ex-library director files lawsuit against city of Lewiston

March 19, 2020 GMT

LEWISTON, Idaho (AP) — A former library director has sued the city of Lewiston over her termination two years ago, alleging sexual harassment, a hostile work environment and other charges dating back to when she was hired in 2012.

The Library Board of Trustees put Alexa Eccles on administrative leave in April 2018 and later fired her after it said it received increasing complaints about dwindling services and collections at the library and a high employee turnover rate.

Eccles’ attorney April M. Linscott filed the lawsuit Friday in federal court, the Lewiston Tribune reported.

Eccles said in the lawsuit that she was sexually assaulted by then-City Councilor Dennis Ohrtman, and reported the incident to the city’s human resource director.

“To my knowledge, all of her previous claims have been investigated and discredited,” Ohrtman said.

The lawsuit also claims employees made derogatory comments toward her and that her rights to due process were violated, including the denial of several procedures like a pre-termination and post-termination hearing and a notice of all claims made against her.

The lawsuit comes after an earlier claim for damages exceeding $1 million was dismissed by the Idaho Human Rights Commission in 2019.

The city unsuccessfully attempted a mediated settlement with Eccles after the commission concluded its process, city attorney Jana Gomez said.

Months had passed between when Eccles was placed on leave and when she was fired, because “there was a thorough process that was followed,” Gomez said.

The city has not yet answered the lawsuit.