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Insurance Commissioner Trinidad Navarro's attempts to control an investigation into allegations he sexually and racially harassed a subordinate caused his former human resources director to lose her job, according to a federal lawsuit filed by the woman. Jenifer Vaughn claims in the lawsuit that Navarro once physically barred her from leaving her office, and had his "cronies" run a smear campaign against her for trying to investigate another employee's complaint against Navarro.
That original complaint is one of two related hostile workplace lawsuits pending against Navarro and his administration. It was filed in September by Fleur McKendell, a black employee who claimed sex and racial discrimination and charged that Navarro made comments about her height and weight and inappropriately touched her braided hair, an allegation he has denied.
The more recent lawsuit filed by Vaughn, the former human resources director and controller in the insurance commissioner's office, centers on claims that Navarro sought to improperly interject Sex personals Navarro into the investigation of McKendell's allegations and retaliated when Vaughn wouldn't allow that. NOTE: Read copies of the complaints at the end of this story. Vaughn is seeking to be reinstated to her job, back pay, additional money for pain and mental suffering, punitive damages, and that Navarro's office receive anti-harassment training. Navarro declined to comment on the specifics of the complaint, citing the pending litigation and workplace restrictions.
He said he plans to fight the suit. Vaughn's lawsuit paints a picture of a commissioner who demanded allegiance, and says that soon after his election, he sought to fill the office with "cronies" he "deemed loyal" from his past positions as New Castle County sheriff and other positions. His chief of staff, Stuart Snyder, is a defendant and described in Vaughn's lawsuit as Navarro's longtime "friend and colleague. Mitch Crane, who had worked in the state insurance office under former commissioner Matt Denn and unsuccessfully ran for the office inis also named as a defendant.
Crane said he supported Navarro in his campaigns for commissioner and sheriff and has been an official in the state Democratic Party. The lawsuit claims there were five women in the office that were trusted by Navarro. Vaughn had worked at the department since When Navarro was elected, Vaughn was responsible for all aspects of human resources including Sex personals Navarro disciplinary actions, according to the lawsuit. She also had financial management duties as the office's controller.
Her lawsuit says Navarro's appointees targeted McKendell quickly with Crane asking for a list of all employees still in their first-year probationary period because they could be fired more easily than others. McKendell was the only black person on that list. She was also the only person who Crane asked Vaughn for dirt on, according to the lawsuit. The Delaware Online app is the best way to stay informed on all things Delaware.
Download it here! Crane denied targeting McKendell. He said he led the team smoothing Navarro's transition to the office and requested a list of employees that were seasonal, first-year and part-time from the office's chief of staff, not from Vaughn. Some time later, McKendell approached Vaughn to report racial and sexual harassment she said was perpetuated by Navarro and Crane, saying the two had made inappropriate comments to her. At that time, she just wanted to make Vaughn aware of the issue but not file a formal complaint, according to Vaughn's lawsuit.
The situation became more tense when an anonymous letter was left with Navarro in January that was critical of Crane, according to Vaughn's lawsuit. The suit says Navarro paid no concern to the contents of the letter and instead called an executive meeting to find out who wrote it.
Vaughn said such an interrogation should not have occurred and that she was "stunned and confused" that the men would take such action without starting a more formal process through human resources.
In MarchMcKendell filed a formal complaint with Vaughn against Navarro and Crane alleging discrimination, retaliation and a hostile work environment. Vaughn received the complaint. Because it involved the highest official in the office, she said she sought input from officials in the state's Office of Human Resources, who advised her to conduct an administrative investigation.
She claims that Navarro's attempts to influence McKendell's investigation began days after the complaint was filed when he stood in Vaughn's office doorway refusing to budge until he received a copy of the complaint. He said that as the head of the department, he could view any records he wanted and refused to leave until he escorted her across the hall to retrieve a printout, she said. According to the lawsuit, he had one question, one he said she needed to "think really hard" on: "What side are you on?
She said she told him she wasn't taking sides and was trying to do the "right thing," according to the lawsuit. Vaughn began the investigation but a family member's hospitalization caused her to be out of the office the day she was to interview Navarro and others. When she returned, she was told that she was no longer on the case, she said.
She said she was kept out of meetings she would normally be a part of and Navarro "berated" her in Sex personals Navarro of other directors, telling her she was prohibited from ing executives in the office about anything because such communications were subject to public open records laws. Her lawsuit claims they took away job duties and sought to go around her to get employee information.
In JanuarySnyder told her that her roles of Sex personals Navarro resources director and controller were being split. Snyder said he wanted the human resources director to do more, duties she couldn't handle with both titles, according to the lawsuit. He told her she could apply if she wanted to carry on as director. But it was a decrease in pay. Her lawsuit described it as retaliation.
In August, she admitted to sharing a password to a state government billing system with another employee in the office to approve transactions on a limited basis.
She said she immediately admitted to sharing the password when accused by Snyder. She was stripped of access to the system, escorted from the office, barred from re-entry and locked out of her state. She was told she could not return until an investigation was complete and has been on paid leave since.
Her lawsuit said the lengthy and "bogus" investigation is Navarro's way of retaliating. In a written statement, Navarro called it a "potential breach" of the state's "financial security. Get breaking news in your inbox. up now. Navarro is up for re-election this year and said, "there has been an effort to sabotage my administration since the election," declining to discuss that in detail.
Contact Xerxes Wilson at or xwilson delawareon line. Facebook Twitter. Accused again: State official facing two harassment lawsuits. Xerxes Wilson Delaware News Journal.
Show Caption. Hide Caption. Delaware state employee gives statement on discrimination and retaliation lawsuit in Dover. Share your feedback to help improve our site!Sex personals Navarro
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