Woman sues Chattanooga, claims harassment

Woman sues Chattanooga, claims harassment

September 20th, 2012 by Todd South in Local Regional News

Former Chattanooga General Services Director Paul Page

Photo by WRCB-TV Channel 3 /Times Free Press.

Document: Paul Page lawsuit

The second of two women who filed federal sexual harassment complaints in 2008 that forced the retirement of Chattanooga's director of general services is suing the city for $350,000 and her job back.

Lana Sutton's lawsuit, filed in Hamilton County Circuit Court on Tuesday, claims that while she worked as a part-time fitness trainer at the city's downtown gym, Director of General Services Paul Page sexually harassed and threatened her on multiple occasions.

"Mr. Page told me that he wanted me to 'get naked in the back' with him," Sutton alleges in court documents.

She also said Page told her she was "in trouble for 'not dressing sexy enough' and told her that he wanted to put a bed in the back room so that they could 'relax in there.'"

Page retired in October 2011, one month after the EEOC finding was made public. He could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

Sutton's attorney, Eric Burnette, confirmed Wednesday that his client was one of two women who filed complaints with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission over Page's actions.

The EEOC found that Page had harassed an employee and the city retaliated against her by moving her to a different location.

Names of the two women were previously undisclosed.

Burnette said his client did not wish to make a statement. He said the EEOC made a "for cause finding" in Sutton's case, which he called "extremely rare" and said that verifies that the complaints were legitimate.

Sutton says in court documents that, when she complained about Page's conduct, she was told by a supervisor "she needed to get along with Mr. Page and try to please him."

She filed her EEOC complaint in December 2008 and was fired two months later, only to be rehired and moved to the Warner Park facility, where jail inmates and those on probation exercise, according to court documents.

While working at the facility, Sutton claims she was "warned that if in effect she did not keep quiet that the Mayor (Ron Littlefield) could have some of the prisoners assault or even murder her," according to court documents.

After Sutton's car was vandalized multiple times, she said she feared for her safety and quit her city job.

City spokesman Richard Beeland said the allegation regarding Littlefield was "absurd and absolutely not true." He declined to comment further, citing pending litigation.

Page receives about $12,000 a year in retirement pay based on his time with the city. When he left his position, he had an annual salary of nearly $91,000.