SLO County maintenance supervisor allegedly spied on workers
November 12, 2015
The maintenance supervisor and lead custodian for the San Luis Obispo County Office of Education secretly recorded, spied on and repeatedly harassed employees, according to claims filed on Oct. 29 by Avila Beach-based attorneys with the Tardiff Law Offices
In early August, maintenance supervisors Bill Barnhill illegally recorded a number of private conversations with custodians Julie Lackie and Sharon James, as well as groundskeeper Dennis Loftus.
The maintenance workers do not know how many of their conversations were recorded, the claims state. After the employees informed the county of the alleged illegal taping, one of the tape recorders used was destroyed on or around August 21, according to the claims.
Barnhill also illegally took photos and/or other media of the janitors and the groundskeeper, the claims state. In addition, Barnhill and lead custodian Michelle Terry allegedly bought binoculars for the purpose of spying on the workers, the claims allege.
Beginning on or before Feb. 1, 2014, Barnhill and Terry began showing up at the work sites of Lackie and James to surprise, shock, annoy, assault and harass them, the claim states. Both Lackie and James typically work late at night and/or in unoccupied buildings and often with headphones on.
The claims cite examples of the harassment.
On one night, Terry followed Lackie without her knowledge while she was cleaning a building near the Men’s Colony. Terry surprised Lackie when she came around a corner, the claim alleges.
On one afternoon, James was working in a “medically fragile” classroom at an Atascadero elementary school. The building was unoccupied at the time. Terry followed James, snuck up behind her and startled her, according to the claim.
The incidents caused the workers serious stress and shock, the claims state.
The harassment was allegedly continuing at the time the claims were filed. The county office of education did little to stop the harassment after becoming aware of it, the claims state.
Jackie, James and Loftus are seeking unspecified damages and compensation for their legal costs. If the county rejects the claims, they can file a lawsuit.