Lane County Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

According to The Register Guard, the Lane County Board of Commissioners has agreed to settle a lawsuit against a former Central Lane Justice of the Peace Cynthia Sinclair. The board approved payment of $82,000 to Heather Hendrickson, a former court clerk who had complained of sexual harassment by the former justice.

Hendrickson originally sought $420,000 from the county alleging that Sinclair sexually harassed and discriminated against her. Sinclair resigned after an investigation revealed that five employees complained that the court judge made frequent and inappropriate sexual comments, and that such actions interfered with her ability to do her job.

An outside investigator conducting the probe found that Sinclair made inappropriate comments to parties attending her courtroom. Hendrickson alleged that the county took no action regarding her complaints of frequent sexual harassment and extremely offensive comments.

In her lawsuit, the plaintiff alleged she suffered severe emotional distress after Sinclair told her that complaints would cause the county to close the Springfield court and force Hendrickson to lose her job.

The County board chairman said in a statement that it was in the county’s best interest to settle the lawsuit and that he had hoped all parties could move on. Other employees have not sued but it is still possible for them to do so, depending on their allegations and time frame.

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