When HR Is The Source Of Harassment, It’s Hard To Get Help

Posted August 17, 2018 by Mary McGinley

Facing harassment on the job is hard enough. However, when it is the people in charge of an organization, the result can be nothing short of a nightmare. No matter whether it is in a corporate environment or the halls of government, harassment and conspiring to cover it up can make the situation worse.

According to an article which appeared in the Dallas Morning News, that is exactly the kind of situation that two Texas women who worked for the city of Rowlett allege that they had to endure. The two women are suing the city of Rowlett, Texas for wrongful termination after having filed complaints regarding the hostile and discriminatory work environment that they had to endure before being fired.

Brandi Bull and Kimberly Wilson are currently suing the city of Rowlett in federal court over alleged violations of the Texas Whistleblower Protection Act. The lawsuit alleges that the city not only allowed but enabled sexual harassment, a hostile work environment. At the center of the allegations are three men; human resources director, John Murray, Police Chief, Mike Broadnax and City Manager, Funderburk.

Ms. Bull alleges multiple incidents involving sexual harassment of herself and others. These incidents include HR director Murray making comments about staff members and walking around the office shirtless asking staff to feel his muscles. Murray also allegedly threatened staff about what he would do if anyone dared to cross him.

She took her complaints to Funderburk who did not want to believe the claims, nor did he reprimand Murray. The city hired an external investigator to investigate and recommended that Murray be terminated. Instead, Murray was allowed to retire.

After Murray’s departure, Funderburk retaliated against Bull by requiring her to take polygraph and drug tests in order to keep her job. Bull was cleared of any wrongdoing but was still fired in October of 2015 and asked to sign a waiver relieving the city of Rowland any liability in exchange for one month’s salary. Bull refused and the city claimed that she was fired for misconduct.

The Second Case

During the time of her employment with the city, Kimberley Wilson was regarded as one of the best CFO’s in the state of Texas. Wilson found several large financial discrepancies and pointed them out to Funderburk. He encouraged her to delay or to hide this information from the city council. When Wilson refused on the grounds that it was unethical and illegal, she was fired for ‘misconduct’.

The lawsuit also involves police chief Broadnax, who had also been overheard making sexual innuendo and commentary with regard to the case and other former city employees.

So far no court date has been set.