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Kentucky County Jail Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit for $75,000

by Derek Gilna

On June 16, 2017, Dianna Reynolds, a former employee at the Boyd County Detention Center in Kentucky, settled her lawsuit against jailer Joe Burchett over sexual harassment by a supervisor. The county agreed to pay her $75,000. Reynolds had alleged that co-worker Jeffrey Scott Salyer had made “inappropriate sexual advances and statements” toward her in person and through electronic messages, and Burchett “refused to take remedial action,” according to her complaint.

Burchett professed to be upset that the case had been settled by the county’s insurance carrier, telling the Daily Independent that the county had “jumped the gun.... I don’t know why they settled, I thought we could win that case.” He claimed he had gone “by the book” in handling the harassment allegations.

Reynolds was a floor deputy at the jail, and alleged in her complaint that Salyer, who was operations manager, made references to her body in conversations and by text messages, including on August 8, 2015 when he circled her body parts on a photo she had posted on her Facebook page.

Reynolds complained of the conduct to her boss, deputy Matt Wolfe, who said he would speak to Tom Jurta, who “largely runs the jail on a day to day basis,” according to the complaint. Regardless, jail officials took no action. Reynolds also stated that she made Burchett aware of the incidents but he responded by saying, “can’t we just get along.”

Reynolds then claimed that Burchett engaged in “retaliatory actions” against her, including calling the control room where she was assigned and hanging up. Burchett never denied doing so, but claimed he hung up because his attorney had told him not to speak to Reynolds while her lawsuit was pending. Burchett also admitted he had told another employee that he was considering firing Reynolds.

Burchett demoted Salyer, who is still employed at the jail, from lieutenant to sergeant, but did not reduce his compensation. He also instituted a new policy prohibiting most employees from having personal cell phones during work hours. See: Reynolds v. Burchett, Boyd Circuit Court (KY), Case No. 16-CI-00129. 

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Related legal case

Reynolds v. Burchett