Judge deciding whether House Majority Whip can be added to sexua - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Judge deciding whether House Majority Whip can be added to sexual harassment suit

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- A former state employee who claims sexual harassment at the Capitol was back in court Monday, claiming she was fired from her job in retaliation.

Yolanda Costner sat quietly in court with her husband and sister as her attorney Thomas Clay first told Circuit Judge Thomas Wingate why this case has not yet been resolved after more than a year in the courts.

“When an opposing party says 'Let's try to work out our differences', and then they slap us in the face by firing one of the plaintiffs, that kind of undermines any good faith,” Clay said during the hearing.

Costner claims her new boss, new House Majority Whip Johnny Bell (D-Glasgow), fired her because of her ongoing lawsuit against former Rep. John Arnold and the LRC, the agency that provides support staff for lawmakers.

Now she wants to add Bell to that lawsuit.

“We have evidence that Mr. Bell was proclaiming before he took this action what he intended to do, and why he intended to do it. It's my belief that those reasons why he did it are forbidden by law,” Clay told reporters.

Neither Bell nor his lawyer came to court, but the attorney for LRC claims Bell has the right to hire and fire his staff as he sees fit.

“There's no contention that I see that is meaningful that the dismissal had anything to do with Ms. Costner filing complaints regarding John Arnold,” said Leslie Vose.

Vose says any complaint against Bell should be filed in a separate lawsuit.

Clay also wants Judge Wingate to order the LRC to turn over evidence he claims it is withholding; evidence Clay says reveals a culture of sexual harassment and discrimination at the Capitol.

“We're hoping that Judge Wingate will order LRC to come clean,” said Clay.

The LRC claims Clay's requests are too broad and endanger the privacy of some Capitol staffers.

The agency also denies any sexual harassment culture.

“There have been complaints, just like in any workplace. They've been investigated and dealt with,” said Vose.

The judge could rule on either or both motions by the end of this week.

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