Olivo Terminated Amid Whistleblower Lawsuit Involving Sexual Harassment
Daisy Olivo a former staffer for the House Republican Caucus in Kentucky has been terminated from her position almost one year after she filed a whistleblower lawsuit against the state claiming she was reprimanded for reporting sexual harassment involving GOP lawmakers. Olivo’s attorney, Shane Sidebottom, confirmed his client was let go. She was fired one day after House Republicans elected new leaders for the upcoming 2019 legislative session, and the decision appears to be one of the first by House Speaker-elect David Osborne’s new leadership team.
In 2017, four Republican lawmakers had reportedly signed a confidential sexual harassment settlement with another former female employee of the GOP caucus. The settlement included Jeff Hoover, former House speaker, R-Jamestown, and three other GOP lawmakers – Rep. Jim DeCesare, R-Bowling Green; Rep. Michael Meredith, R-Oakland; and Rep. Brian Linder, R-Dry Ridge. Hoover denied sexual harassment but said he did send the woman inappropriate but consensual text messages.
Hoover later resigned as speaker but kept his seat in the legislature. He was fined $1,000 by the Legislative Ethics Commission and issued a public apology. Then, he was re-elected to his House seat in November of this year without opposition.
Olivo filed her lawsuit a few weeks after the settlement became public. She claimed she had “basically been put on paid suspension” by House leaders because she had reported the alleged harassment. She said Hoover had “physical, sexual encounters” with the woman “both during work hours, and outside of work hours.” She confronted Hoover and reported it to the human resources department. They responded, she said, by taking away her job responsibilities.
At the time, an attorney for the female victim who settled with lawmakers, referred to in court documents as Jane Doe, said Olivo’s claim that Hoover and the woman had “sexual relations” was “absolutely not true.” However, in October of this year, the woman gave a deposition in the lawsuit. Sidebottom said her testimony described “disturbing facts regarding sexual harassment and sexual assault,” including “conduct in the parking lot of a local restaurant.”
An attorney for Hoover and two of the other lawmakers who signed the settlement has asked for portions of the woman’s testimony to be sealed. They’ve stated her comments violated the confidential settlement agreement she signed. A judge temporarily granted that request, and Olivo’s attorneys have opposed that ruling. A hearing on the matter has been scheduled.
The alleged victim resigned shortly after the settlement was revealed. Brad Metcalf, the former chief clerk of the House, was also fired last January. He, too, has filed a whistleblower lawsuit.
“I don’t think it’s any coincidence that the lady who filed the sexual harassment complaint and the two employees who did the right thing and reported it are no longer employed by the (Legislative Research Commission),” Sidebottom said. “Any time a whistleblower files a suit they put their job in play, unfortunately. Under statute, we could consider it another act of retaliation in violation of the law.”