A former staffer of the North Carolina Democratic Party has filed a defamation lawsuit against the party and its chairman over a 2011 sexual harassment claim.
The former staffer, Adrian Ortega, says NCDP chair David Parker violated terms of a sexual harassment settlement issued in early 2012.
According to Ortega’s lawsuit, under the terms of the settlement, the NCDP breached its contract with Ortega during a press conference on April 19, 2012. The lawsuit claims Parker held the press conference and launched attacks on Ortega’s reputation and to “redirect scrutiny” away from the Democratic Party.
Ortega says he and the NCDP reached a settlement where the NCDP “is to refrain from making any disparaging remarks regarding Ortega.”
According to Ortega’s settlement with the NCDP, the party was only allowed to mention the dates Ortega was employed and that he left his position at the NCDP for business reasons. According to Ortega, if the NCDP was asked about the harassment claim, it could say “the matter has been resolved by agreement of the parties.”
Ortega claims the defamatory comments made have caused “mental suffering” as well as injury to his reputation.
The lawsuit claims Ortega tried to handle the sexual harassment claim internally and wrote a letter on Dec. 8, 2011 detailing the sexual harassment. A complaint was filed Jan. 31 with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
"During my tenure I was sexually harassed by the executive director," the victim wrote in the complaint, which indicated the allegation happened between early September and late November 2011.
The victim said in the complaint he discussed the harassment with the party's director of administration in September and that his supervisor told him on Oct. 1 that he had been advised of the allegations.
After meeting with another party operative, the victim said he was told that there would be no retaliation for his complaint.
"I was no longer sexually harassed but on or around Nov. 21, 2011, my employment was terminated," he said in the complaint.
At the press conference, Parker addressed the federal discrimination complaint against former Executive Director Jay Parmley that resulted in Parmley's resignation and calls for the party chair to step down.
"Jay Parmley's hasty resignation made the situation worse," Parker said before going over line-by-line the charges against the former executive director.
Parker won reelection at a state party meeting, despite calls for his resignation.
The Republican National Committee spokesman Matt Connelly responded to Thursday's lawsuit saying, “Today’s developments confirm that North Carolina will continue to be a mess for the Democratic Party and President Obama through the Democratic National Convention and up until election day.”
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