ROCKLAND — A former Knox County Jail guard filed a federal lawsuit against Knox County, claiming she was sexually harassed for the three years she worked there, despite notifying her superiors.

The lawsuit on behalf of the St. George woman was filed Sept. 8 in U.S. District Court of Portland. The woman filed a complaint with the Maine Human Rights Commission, which gave her a notice in July that she could sue since the commission did not yet act on her claims, according to the lawsuit.

The St. George woman began working for the county in July 2017 as a part-time corrections officer.

During her first year on the job, a male coworker “consistently made sexual comments to Plaintiff about her body and his own body. He openly discussed his sex life with Plaintiff, despite Plaintiff telling him she did not want to hear about it,” according to the lawsuit.

On one occasion, the coworker “cornered Plaintiff in a closet and closed the door. He pushed his body against Plaintiff’s body, trapping her. Plaintiff shouted at (the coworker), among other exclamations, to stop,” according to the complaint.

She then reported what happened to her female supervisor, who confided that the man touched her breast and also made sexual comments to her in the past. She told the St. George woman that was “just the way (he) was,” the lawsuit alleges.

Over the subsequent months, the male officer continued to sexually harass the woman, including touching her buttocks, blocking her path so she had to squeeze by him, and making comments about his sex life. The woman reported the behavior to two different supervisors, according to her complaint.

The lawsuit also alleges she reported to work one day and was reassigned from medium security to the female minimum security part or the jail. The woman said two female inmates said the male coworker sexually harassed one of them and they reported it, leading to him being reassigned to the medium security part of the jail.

Nothing was done, and eventually she sent a Facebook message to a coworker, complaining about the harassment and the lack of response by supervisors.

She said she was then called in to a meeting with the jail administrator and another supervisor, and told she was creating a toxic work environment and was fired.

The St. George woman said she was also discriminated because of her age; she is now 73. She said one of her supervisors asked her shortly before she was terminated when she planned to retire, that people would call her ‘Grandma,’ and tell her she was too old for the job.

The lawsuit seeks to have her reinstated to her job or front pay in lieu of reinstatement, back pay going back to June 2020, and damages for mental anguish, loss of dignity and other intangible injuries as well as attorneys fees.

The lawsuit does not name the offending officer, nor does it state whether he remains employed by the county.

County Administrator Andrew Hart said Sept. 8 he had nothing on the lawsuit. The court record shows the attorneys have until Dec. 7 to serve the county with the lawsuit. Knox County Sheriff  Tim Carroll said he could not comment on the matter, but contacted the county’s legal representative to see if something can be said in response to the lawsuit.

The woman is represented by attorneys Andrew Cotter and James Clifford of Kennebunk.