Problem occurred over nearly a two-year period, according to lawsuit
by Alan J. McCombs
A Prince George’s County Health Department employee is suing the department, the county government and her former supervisor over alleged sexual harassment she claims took place at work.
Oreadea Treadwell of Clinton filed a civil lawsuit Jan. 7 in federal court alleging that while she was working as a community developer for the county health department, her manager, Christopher Oladipo, repeatedly intimidated and sexually harassed her, according to court documents. Treadwell is seeking unspecified damages from the county, according to her attorney, Ted Williams.
The county is filing to dismiss the claim, stating Treadwell was a contract employee when the incidents allegedly occurred and therefore the health department is technically not Treadwell’s employer, according to online court documents filed Feb. 6.
A response to the filing is being worked on, Williams said. No hearings had been scheduled as of Tuesday, according to court records.
Both Treadwell and Oladipo continue to work for the county health department but they do not work together, said Barry Hudson, a county spokesman, who said the county could not discuss details of the case due to the ongoing lawsuit.
Oladipo could not be reached for comment. Oladipo remains a manager, Hudson said.
According to the lawsuit, the harassment occurred from the time Treadwell was initially hired in January 2009 through October 2010 despite requests to the health department’s human resources office for intervention.
Treadwell’s suit wasn’t filed until this year as she had been waiting on the county’s Human Relations Commission, a county agency that investigates and adjudicates matters of discrimination occurring in the county, to process her claim of discrimination, Williams said.
Treadwell filed her complaint of alleged discrimination around June 29, 2010, according to court documents. Due to privacy reasons, D. Michael Lyles, executive director of the commission, said he couldn’t discuss whether Treadwell had a case or the results of any HRC investigation.
A copy of an April 2012 HRC investigative report provided to The Gazette by Williams stated “a preponderance of evidence does support sexual harassment more than likely occurred.”
“It was almost like living in a horror film, one of the scariest ones you could see or describe,” Treadwell said Feb. 8. “There wasn’t a day that I went to work and I wasn’t anxious or afraid or wondering what he was going to do.”
In July 2010, Treadwell sought and received a peace order against Oladipo in circuit court, according to court records.
Sexual harassment training has been mandatory since former County Executive Wayne K. Curry’s administration, which lasted from 1994 to 2002, Hudson said. Pamela Creekmur, who became the county’s health officer last year, ordered in September that all of the department’s 600 employees take a review of the training.
The decision to order the training was not directly linked to Treadwell’s accusations of harassment, Peterson said.
Such work was too little, too late, Williams said.
“Ms. Treadwell was crying out for help, and they weren’t doing anything,” Williams said.