Last month we broke the story about an investigation into Joe Rutherford, Kasich’s ODOT Deputy Director for District 5, that likely lead to his firing. Documents obtained by Plunderbund now confirm that the investigation, conducted by ODOT’s Office of Equal Opportunity, found Rutherford retaliated against a female ODOT employee because of an earlier sexual harassment claim she made against a coworker. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 strictly forbids this type of retaliation.
According to the investigation report, Faith Yarger, a 12 year ODOT employee, made multiple requests to transfer to an ODOT office closer to an ailing family member for whom she was caring. Each request was turned down.
When Ms. Yarger asked Rutherford about the denials, he told her “he would not permit her to transfer within the Department due to her personal ‘baggage’ and poor lifestyle choices, which were disclosed during the previously reported complaint of sexual harassment she made.”
Rutherford then proceeded to contact deputy directors in other districts to inform them of “Yarger’s history of indiscretions and poor lifestyle choices”, warning them not to hire her.
During a meeting on October 4th, 2013 to discuss the denied transfers, Rutherford informed Yarger that he believed claims about her “sleeping with married men” made by the ODOT employee who was fired for sexually harassing her, even though she had denied the claims and investigators found no evidence that they were true.
Rutherford then told Yarger that he could continued to prevent her from transferring because of her ”immoral activities” and he would keep her in her current location until she learned to “become a better role model to her children.”
The investigation was completed on November 5th, 2013 and found that probably causes exists to determine Rutherford retaliated against Yarger for activity protected under the Civil Rights Act of of 1964. Rutherford officially resigned on December 17th, 2013.
The ODOT investigation documents are available here.