SALT LAKE COUNTY — A former Salt Lake County Jail employee has filed a federal civil lawsuit against the county claiming for more than a decade she was the victim of sexual harassment, gender discrimination and retaliation.
Sherie Peek filed her 89-page lawsuit in federal court on Friday. In it, she claims that she was forced to endure an atmosphere of sexual harassment in the workplace while others turned a blind eye.
"Sherie has been forced to either endure this horrific work environment, or quit the job she worked with expertise. Unable to afford quitting, she has been forced to endure this terrible environment that has continued for the past fourteen years," the suit states.
The lawsuit only lists Salt Lake County as a defendant and not individual people. But throughout the long lawsuit, many of the jail's top brass, both current and former, are named.
Peek worked in the Health Services Department at the Salt Lake County Jail from 1999 until May 5, 2016, when she was transferred to another area of the sheriff's office to work as a clerk, according to the lawsuit.
She contends that one of her managers began harassing her in 2002. The lawsuit describes Peek as naive and insecure, and because of the stress from several personal tragedies happening in her life at that time, she "did not recognize his increasing advances for what they were: a wrongful abuse of power."
"Despite Sherie’s fragile mental, emotional, and physical state, her manager pursued her with clear sexual intent," the lawsuit states. "Sherie’s manager...should have been protecting her, not viewing her as a sexual conquest."
Peek said her manager sent her several emails that were sexual in nature. But jail administration and other supervisors did nothing to help her, the lawsuit states.3 comments on this story
"All of Sherie’s managers should have protected her from the human sharks in her workplace, but, as it turns out, they are the sharks, or play the role of helping the sharks," according to the suit.
The lawsuit makes claims of a "sex-saturated environment" at the Salt Lake County Jail "that allows, and even emboldens, employees to sexually harass other employees, especially managers."
Peek claims two nurses at the jail invited her to attend a sex party with them, according to the lawsuit, and then turned hostile toward her when she declined.
Peek filed a complaint against the county in 2015 with the Utah Labor Commission, but the statute of limitation had passed.