The Herald, Sharon, Pa.

December 16, 2013

Former college employee alleges gender bias

By Joe Pinchot
Herald Staff Writer

GROVE CITY — A former Grove City College employee has sued the college alleging it discriminated against her because of her gender when it fired her.

The college has denied the accusation, saying it was justified in firing Sherry Poole.

Poole, 566 Poole Road, Lake Township, was hired in 1994 as a part-time watchman and last worked as a full-time public safety officer.

Poole said she “was assigned to complete work that male officers in her department were unable or unwilling to finish,” such as writing letters to students with excessive violations and handling parking appeals, all duties outside her job description, she said in her complaint filed Nov. 18 in Mercer County Common Pleas Court.

She said her supervisor avoided her and canceled or delayed meetings she requested, while male employees “enjoyed an open-door policy with the supervisor.”

Poole claimed she was told she did not smile enough, something male employees were told.

She was fired April 16, 2012, six days after sending an email to the maintenance department supervisor advising him that she was investigating allegations against a maintenance employee.

The email was deemed “willful misconduct” by college officials, but Poole claimed it did not include any confidential information and violated no school policies.

The college responded Monday saying the email did contain confidential information because it discussed an ongoing investigation.

The email violated college policy because it was “a willful act of insubordination,” the college said.

The reason for firing her was legitimate and non-discriminatory, and she was an at-will employee throughout her tenure, the college said.

“(Poole’s) own conduct caused the losses of which she now complains,” the college said.

Poole is seeking back and front pay and lost benefits and damages for humiliation, embarrassment and loss of self-esteem.