Theresa Farmer, a former paralegal with the Floyd County Attorney’s Office in Charles City, Iowa, filed suit against her former employer in Floyd County Court last week. The complaint contains serious allegations of sexual harassment in the workplace that no employee should have to experience, or tolerate after placing an employer on notice of the conduct. reports that Farmer accuses ex Floyd County Attorney Jesse Marzen of harassing her from the time she joined his office as a paralegal in 2007, until Marzen wrongly terminated her in 2009. She alleges that Marzen committed multiple acts of sexual harassment, including:

  • Repeatedly telling Farmer he wasn’t getting laid during his wife’s pregnancy;
  • Disclosing to Farmer that he’d had sex with other attorneys and family members of witnesses;
  • Calling Farmer “sexy” and “hot”; 
  • Posting sexually inappropriate materials on his office wall; and
  • Touching Farmer’s breasts while she was standing at the copier.

Farmer seems to have done everything an employee trapped in a situation like this should do, documenting the events as they occurred, and reporting them to her superiors, including several assistant attorney generals, and County Auditor Gloria Carr. describes Carr’s curious response to Farmer’s complaint:

After five complaints by Farmer, Carr finally witnessed sexually inappropriate materials that Marzen posted on his office walls.  Farmer states that Carr was going to talk with Marzen about the harassment but adds that Carr couldn’t find anything in the county’s sexual harassment policy specifically prohibiting his actions.

Perhaps Carr should familiarize herself with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission site, which plainly and directly describes the acts of harassment that are unlawful, and that apply to employers with 15 or more employees, regardless of whether they are specifically written down in an employer’s HR policies.

According to the Associated Press, the County fired Marzen when his law license was suspended for at least six months, after the Iowa Supreme Court ruled he had an inappropriate sexual relationship with a client in 2006. As of today, the Iowa State Bar lists Marzen’s license status as suspended.

If Theresa Farmer prevails in this action, I hope that the Iowa State Bar does not reinstate Marzen’s license for a long time, if ever. No one should have to work for an attorney that any court has found guilty of repeatedly engaging in unethical and otherwise prohibited conduct with staff members and clients.


Related Posts: What You Need to Know Now About Sexual Harassment; Former Public Defender Admits Sexual Harassment of Staff and Consents to Suspension of Law License for Five Years

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