Lawsuit filed against Explore Elk Grove, plaintiff takes to social media with sexual harrassment claims


UPDATED 5:30 p.m. May 8

In what could be considered a mashup of social media's influence and the #MeToo movement, a consultant has aired her grievances and a lawsuit she has filed against the agency charged with promoting tourism in Elk Grove.

In a posting on the Facebook page identified as belonging to Kristin Berkery, it was stated that she has filed a lawsuit alleging, among other things, sexual harassment by the Explore Elk Grove's executive director John, "J.T." Thompson. The group, which is a non profit mutual benefit corporation, also known as Visit Elk Grove, promotes tourism to Elk Grove.

The Facebook comments said: "If you want to read the details of what I've been going through since last August, here's my legal complaint, filed May 6 at the Sac County Courthouse:"

and

"It [the lawsuit] details how I was sexually harassed for months, then I was retaliated against when I firmly said "STOP" and I was fired. After the City of Elk Grove - City Hall investigated, I was told by a city employee they were keeping the final report quiet. I'm curious if any of the City Council is aware of the tourism board's and Economic Development Department's behavior?"

Although the City of Elk Grove is not named in the lawsuit, Elk Grove city employee Rachael Brown is a named defendant. Brown works in the city's economic development department under the direction of Darrell Doan, and the department reports to city manager Jason Behrmann.

The link on the Facebook page shows the filing, which was placed at a drop box at Sacramento Superior Court. No case number has been assigned to the suit.

The lawsuit details Berkery's assertion that after being hired by Thompson to assist the agency in several marketing functions, facets, she was terminated.

The suit says:

"A marketing consultant was retained to work on a business development project for a
city in Sacramento County. She threw herself into the project and made excellent progress.
Then she encountered sexual harassment. The male client wanted sexual favors and a trophy
girlfriend. He texted her with romantic overtures, one of which appears above. She refused.
He dangled the promise of more business. She still refused.
Then she was fired ... one day after she reported the sexual harasser to a city official."

Interestingly the court filing starts with a copy of a text reportedly sent to Berkery from Thompson that said:

“It was great being there with the hottest girl in the room… I’m hurting
because you are, because you’re in my heart, and that will never go
away!!!!...My love for you only grows stronger everytime [sic] we’re together. I’m
only 10 minutes away and would love nothing more than to be there for you
Even just to hold you! XO”

The document also contains other images of texts allegedly exchanged between Thompson and Berkery.

The filing also noted the city conducted an internal investigation handled by an outside party. Following that investigation, the plaintiff said in her complaint that "Brown’s cryptic remarks that the City and Visit Elk Grove were burying Thompson’s misconduct to avoid bad publicity. His sexual harassment would be overlooked to protect Visit Elk Grove. Thompson continued to hold the top position at Visit Elk Grove."

Thompson was hired by Explore Elk Grove as their second executive director in February 2018 (see Thompson's May 2018 presentation to the Elk Grove City Council below). The group is funded by transient taxes levied on hotels in and nearby Elk Grove. Thompson did not return a voicemail message seeking comment.

Along with sexual harassment, the plaintiff seeks damages for false promises; breach of implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing; and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Berkery is represented by attorney David Graulich.

The lawsuit document linked on the Berkery Facebook page shows it was deposited in a drop box at Superior Court on Monday, May 6, 2019, but does not show a case assignment number.

UPDATE

Plaintiff's attorney Graulich told Elk Grove News based on findings during the discovery phase of the proceedings, the complaint could be amended to include the City of Elk Grove as a defendant.







 






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2 comments

An Elk Grove Voter said...

Has everything or anyone associated with the city of Elk Grove Economic Development Department fallen down a rabbit hole?

Some of text messages are very troubling. And according to the lawsuit, the day after Ms. Berkery informs city staff, she is fired. So much for protecting the alleged victim here.

A concerned woman said...

Alleged being the key word!! Sounds like nothing more than a crush gone bad and a women using the truly horrible experiences of other true victims to seek money for her failing business. I guess once she decides to truly make it a legal case instead of nothing more than a social media crucification of the city and a possible good man I might believe she isn’t just looking for a settlement. No case number.....means this was written to simply embarrass people into paying her to shut up.

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