Court rejects hostile work environment claim against State and DNR
Kim Kerns was a seasonal, at-will employee of the Department of Natural Resources at the South Higgins Lake State Park for five years. She alleged that she was regularly subjected to sexually offensive statements by her co-worker, Robert Turbiak, who also accused her of misconduct with the supervisor. Her co-workers provided notarized confirmation of these inappropriate remarks by Turbiak. She and another female co-worker also filed written complaints about Turbiak's improper behavior. Kerns was not re-hired the next season, allegedly because of an unrelated complaint by a Park camper.
Kerns filed suit alleging retaliation and gender discrimination, however, the Court of Appeals upheld the dismissal of her claim. It ruled that her complaints to Park Rangers regarding Turbiak's conduct did not constitute notice to DNR administrators. It also ruled that Kerns did not prove that the failure to re-hire her the following season was not merely "coincidental."