Records: 3 TxDOT Abilene employees fired for sexually harassing women, others reprimanded
ABILENE, Texas —
The Texas Department of Transportation has disciplined several employees at its Abilene office for sexually harassing their female co-workers.
Three male employees have been fired over the last four years for allegations of sexual harassment, according to records that KTXS News obtained using an open records request.
TxDOT's website has 266 employees listed for its Abilene office, which covers 13 counties.
The most recent complaint that TxDOT received happened on May 21 and led to the firing of Jesse Kruger, who was a General Transportation Technician in Haskell County.
According to records, Kruger was fired for sexual harassment “due to discussion of sexual activities in the workplace."
In January of 2017, six Abilene employees were disciplined for what TxDOT stated was "concerns regarding sexual harassment, other harassment based on a protected class and unprofessional conduct."
- Cammy Guelker, Elmer Green, Eduardo Ruiz and Sergio Ruiz were given written reprimands.
- Kenneth Terry was terminated.
- Virgil Pruitt was demoted and transferred to a different office.
The records that KTXS News obtained also reported that an employee resigned in February of 2015 "in lieu of discipline" for sexual harassment.
Several employees came forward to complain about Ed Hart regarding “inappropriate behavior of a sexual nature."
However, the discipline of TxDOT employees at the Abilene office for sexual harassment dates as far back as 2014, with Leroy Soria being fired in September of 2014.
Several female co-workers told TxDOT's management that they had been sexually harassed by Soria and other employees also shared their concerns and testimony of harassment, according to documents.
TxDOT's media relations team released a statement to KTXS News concerning sexual harassment in the workplace, which can be read below:
- The Texas Department of Transportation consists of almost 12,000 employees of various backgrounds across the state and has an average of 44 complaints, or just approximately 0.35 percent, per year over the past three years alleging discrimination, harassment and retaliation. We track all allegations and take each one seriously.
- In 2015, TxDOT made improvements to its processes for handling employee complaints. The Ethics and EEO section was created to reflect the importance of these concerns. When these functions were moved into the Human Resources Division, we launched a comprehensive educational push (through New Employee Orientation, through Web-Ex's, through live presentations and through updating policies and procedures) to ensure that TxDOT employees knew the process for filing complaints of discrimination, harassment and retaliation. While encouraging people to report incidents, we also train everyone on the importance of treating others with respect and dignity. We continue to reinforce that discrimination, harassment and retaliation are never acceptable.
- Sadly, many organizations have to deal with the unacceptable problem of discrimination, harassment and/or retaliation. We believe what is most important is that we are handling the issues appropriately as they come up and we are taking proactive steps in the form of ongoing outreach, presentations and mandatory training to prevent them. We are focused on fostering an environment where employees know that discrimination, harassment and retaliation will not be tolerated as well as one where employees feel comfortable bringing their concerns to our department. Our commitment is to continually improve these efforts and the outcomes.