Wednesday, December 08, 1999

Kenton lost, hasn't paid suit

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        COVINGTON — A former Kenton County official who successfully sued for sexual discrimination is going back to court because she still has not seen her money.

        Lawyers for Betty Bernard filed court documents Monday to force the county to pay and sent copies to Fifth Third Bank, where the county has an account. That's called a garnishment — the same kind of method used to take weekly wages from noncustodial parents.

        They say her due, with interest and penalties, has grown to more than $150,000, and their fees to more than $50,000.

        “She just wants the money she's entitled to,” lawyer Barbara Bonar said of her client.

        County officials dispute the amounts. That's what has slowed their response, said County Attorney Garry Edmondson. They will fight in court, he said, until a judge says what amounts are correct.

        Ms. Bernard, of Villa Hills, won more than $93,000 in 1996 after a jury agreed she had been discriminated against because a man won the assistant county administrator's job over her. County officials maintained that the judge-executive, who chose the man over Ms. Bernard, had the power by state law to hire whomever he wanted for his top administrative positions.

        Ms. Bernard eventually was given the job of director of human services at a lower salary. She stayed in that job from 1990 until she left county government in 1994. She sued in 1993.

        Two county appeals failed, most recently in October when the state Supreme Court declined to get involved.

        Mr. Edmondson said the county disagrees with Ms. Bernard's attorney on the interest amount, specifically whether the original $93,000-plus should accrue interest after the date of the original May 1996 judgment. Ms. Bonar says it should.


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