Lee County custodian claims she was harassed by supervisor

Author: dave culbreth

FORT MYERS, Fla.- A WINK News investigation uncovered a workplace harassment that cost you thousands, and the issue is a woman who says she was harassed because she’s gay.

The five figure settlement was paid with your tax money.

“He tells me ‘since you look like a man you might as well work like a man,'” said Lydia Martinez, a custodian for the Lee County School District.

Martinez says she was treated poorly many times at North Fort Myers High School because she’s gay.

“I can’t even count. I had a daily journal,” said Martinez.

She says she was harassed every day for eight years by her boss, the head custodian.

“I tried to hide from him,” said Martinez. “If I would see him, I would go the other way, go behind the door, run to the bathroom. I just didn’t want to be around him, I would feel very uncomfortable like here he comes again to pick on me.”

In the lawsuit she eventually filed against the school district, Martinez says she reported it from 2005 to 2012. First to the principal then to people at the school district and nothing was ever done.

“I would leave my house and my nerves were shot before I even got there,” Martinez recalled. “Then when I got there and I’d see him, I’d go ‘oh, what now?'”

So, she found attorney Ben Yormak.

“When I heard how long it had been going on it was just offensive personally, professionally, legally, it’s wrong,” Yormak said.

He filed a federal lawsuit against the Lee County School District.

“The laws are in place to treat everyone equally and nothing could have been further from the truth,” Yormak added.

In court documents other witnesses said that they personally heard her boss say that, “Ms. Lydian was a lesbian and that since she’s a man, I will treat her as one and make her work as one.”

In the end the school district settled and paid out $30,000.

“The fact that she remains employed and now happily employed at a different school under a different supervisor indicates that the problem didn’t exist with Ms. Martinez,” added Yormak. “The problem existed with her supervisor who, ironically enough, is still employed.”

WINK News pulled the head custodian’s personnel file and there’s no indication that he was reprimanded. In fact, he’s been employed with the district since 1993 yet of the over 100 page personnel file, there are very few entries after 2005. That’s almost ten years ago and about the time when Martinez says the harassment started.

“This has affected me mentally,” Martinez said. “I’m still going to a psychologist because of this. I’ve never had problems before mentally but I’m still going to a psychologist.”

We specifically wanted to know why the head custodian wasn’t disciplined but the Lee County School District would not comment nor even issue a simple statement on this matter.

WINK News also left messages at the head custodian’s house last week and even spoke with a relative Monday, but was told the man was not going to tell us his side of this story.

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