The City of Goodhue and its police department have responded to a federal lawsuit that a former employee's civil rights were violated, asking a judge to dismiss the suit for a number of reasons, including that "the conduct complained of did not constitute sexual harassment as that term is defined by law."
The 15-page response filed with in U.S. District Court on Tuesday, Feb. 16, 2021 by attorney Julie Fleming-Wolfe on behalf of the city and its police department denies most of the allegations laid out in the lawsuit.
The lawsuit was filed on Jan. 22, 2021, by Allison Jones, a former part-time police officer with the Goodhue Police Department. Jones alleges former Goodhue Police Chief Brian Loos sexually harassed her and that he, along with the City of Goodhue and its police department, violated her civil rights.
Jones was with the department from January 2014 until July 2017, when she was told the department "no longer had hours for her and would not be placing her on the schedule," according to the Jan. 22 complaint. Her termination came about a month after she reported the alleged harassment to her sergeant. Loos voluntarily resigned from his position in November 2017, about two weeks after the city received a Minnesota Department of Human Rights' charge.
In its response, Goodhue and its police department state that Jones' sexual harassment claims fail because the city and police department "exercised reasonable care to prevent and correct promptly any sexually harassing behavior" and that Jones "unreasonably failed to take advantage of any preventive or corrective opportunities provided by the employer or to avoid harm."
The response also argues that the sexual harassment claims fail because the conduct outlined in the complaint did not constitute sexual harassment as defined by law.
The response asks that the court dismiss the lawsuit with prejudice, meaning the case could not be refiled, and that the City of Goodhue and its police department be awarded monies to cover the costs of the litigation, including attorney fees.
Loos, through his attorneys, Francis J. Rondoni and Emeric J. Dwyer, also denies the allegations and argues that Jones' claims are barred by the statute of limitations and that there was failure to exhaust administrative remedies. Loos' response also notes that Loos "did not participate in any decision to discipline or terminate" Jones.
A pretrial phone conference is scheduled for March 23 before Magistrate Judge Katherine M. Menendez.