A sexual assault and wrongful termination lawsuit involving the Warren County Highway Department has resulted in county government paying out nearly $100,000 despite denying the allegations.
In October of 2020, the plaintiff, Brittney Lefebvre, who was represented by Galligan and Newman in the lawsuit, was working alone at the highway department when Kenny Roberts, the assistant road superintendent at the time, came to the office near the end of the day. According to the complaint, Roberts entered the office and approached Lefebvre’s desk telling her it was his birthday on Friday, Oct. 8, and asked for a hug.
Lefebvre quickly gave him a hug, but Roberts insisted on a kiss pulling her in by her arms saying, “come on, now.” Lefebvre refused and when she was able to pull away, Roberts told her not to take it the wrong way. When he exited the office, he said, “Now remember, this is our little circle.”
Roberts returned to her office two more times. Once to ask for copies and the other time he began apologizing while also blocking Lefebvre’s exit. She was able to exit from the other side of her desk and rushed out of the office. In the defendant’s answer, the county claimed the department is without sufficient information to admit or deny these allegations and therefore denies them.
The same afternoon, Lefebvre says she called Warren County Roads Superintendent Levie Glenn who instructed her to meet him in the Lowe’s parking lot. Lefebvre explained what happened and she claims Glenn said he would take care of it. Later that afternoon, she says Glenn called her and told her not to say anything about the incident because that is how rumors get started. Warren County admits to the meeting, but denies Glenn said he would take care of it or said not to tell anyone.
Lefebvre was scheduled for a vacation the next week, and when she returned to work she claims her coworkers acted coldly toward her. She asked what action was taken as a result of the assault and Glenn only told her he no longer worked in the department. She soon learned he was allowed to retire.
The following week she was called into a meeting with Glenn and fellow employee, Angie Fulton, where Glenn gave her a notice of separation claiming she was being let go due to a lack of work as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The complaint notes that the first case of COVID-19 was recorded some 232 days before her termination and she received a raise the day of the incident indicating her firing was sudden. The defendant denies that she was awarded a raise the day of the assault.
The complaint states Lefebvre confronted Glenn asserting his reason for letting her go was untrue, and she was being fired for reporting the incident with Roberts, and Glenn said he had nothing else to say about it. The defendant admits Glenn indicated he had nothing else to say about complaint; however, denies she was terminated for reporting the assault.
The complaint states the Tennessee Human Rights Act was violated because it prohibits and declares retaliation against an employee who opposes or reports things such as sexual assault and battery by a supervisor as an illegal and discriminatory practice. The complaint also states the Tennessee Public Protection Act prohibits employers from discharging or terminating an employee for opposing or refusing to remain silent about illegal activities.
Warren County admits in their answer that Lefebvre was terminated from her position of employment with the Warren County Highway Department on Oct. 29, 2020 and that she made allegations against Roberts earlier the same month, but denies that there were any type of causal connection between the two events.
The plaintiff requested compensatory damages in an amount not to exceed $300,000. The defendant, Warren County government, settled for $97,500 plus mediation expenses.