Ashland Parks and Rec employee files lawsuit against department, city over alleged ‘systemic’ harassment

ASHLAND, Ore — A longtime employee with the Ashland Parks and Recreation Department, has filed a lawsuit over years of alleged harassment and other claims that involve a handful of people.

The APRD, the city of Ashland, and five individual employees were served the lawsuit last week. It largely alleges age, gender and sexual orientation based harassment, discrimination and retaliation.

Laura Chancellor has been at the company over the last 17 years. She says there’s numerous incidents of reporting harassment claims, that later turned into violent retaliation from the employees.

Southern Oregon civil rights attorney Thomas Dimitre is representing Chancellor in the suit. He says days after Chancellor reported that she was being harassed by an employee, the individual then attempted to run over her with a dump truck.

After months of investigating, Dimitre claims that Chancellor and numerous other women employees, have been at the center of, “widespread systemic and long-term harassment at the APRD.”

“[Chancellor’s] civil rights have been violated for at least the last decade and we’re not going to put up with that anymore,” Dimitre told NBC5. “The city has been aware of it. My client, other women, and at least two men that I know of have complained about it in the past. The city and APRD have done nothing.” 

Additionally, Chancellor claims she’s being paid significantly less than her male coworkers in the same position. The plaintiffs allege that opportunities for higher positions and promotions have never been prioritized or given to women at the APRD.

While the suit lists a plethora of complaints against the defendants, Dimitre is seeking monetary damages for his client, as well as an overall reform of the department.

“It’s a well known problem and no one has been able to tackle it,” Dimitre said. “We’re hoping that the lawsuit prompts them to deal with it. “My client deserves to be treated as a first class citizen and not a second class citizen.” 

The city of Ashland and the APRD said it cannot comment on pending litigation. However, Dimitre said the city informed him that they are investigating the allegations that was first brought up in November of 2021.

This remains a developing story and more details will be released as it emerges.

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