OKC pays former 911 supervisor $150,000 to settle retaliation claims
Oklahoma City has paid a former 911 supervisor $150,000 to settle claims she was harassed and retaliated against after she reported she was sexually assaulted.
"I decided to make a report ... as a rape victim and, as a result of that, my job was taken from me," Shannon B. Nealy told The Oklahoman on Tuesday. "It was very hurtful that something that happened in my personal life was now being brought into my work life and being held against me because I sought justice."
Nealy, 32, filed an employment discrimination lawsuit last year in Oklahoma City federal court. In part, she alleged she was "passed over" for promotions because she is black. She also alleged her superiors retaliated against her after she accused a longtime city employee of rape.
The city in June agreed to settle the case without admitting liability.
Moving forward, Nealy said, she plans to help fight for sexual assault victims and encourage them to seek justice. She already has been sharing her story through public speaking and contributed to a book about women overcoming adversity.
"Filing this lawsuit, it was not about the money. It was just me fighting for my rights, me trying to keep my job and I didn't realize I would have to take it this far," she said.
Nealy said she resigned as part of the settlement. She had been on paid leave for the last two years, she said. The Oklahoma City Police Department hired her in 2007.
In 2015, she told her superiors she was sexually assaulted by William Dale Bryles, who at the time was president of a union that represents Oklahoma City municipal employees, according to the lawsuit.
Nealy claimed Bryles drugged and raped her in 2005 while she was a union secretary. Bryles has never been charged with a sex offense.
However, while looking into Nealy's allegation, police investigators discovered Bryles had stolen thousands of dollars from the union for his personal use. He stepped down as president of Local 2406 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees in September 2016.
Bryles, now 55, pleaded no contest to four felony counts of embezzlement last year. He was ordered to pay $11,174 in restitution and serve three years probation.
After Nealy initially made her allegation, Bryles began threatening and harassing her, the lawsuit alleged. She said she told her superiors but they did nothing.
She filed a protective order against Bryles in November 2015, which a judge later issued.
Bryles was charged last year with violating that protective order, a misdemeanor. He is accused of sending the woman a friend request through social media. The case is pending.
In November 2015, Nealy took medical leave after being diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, according to the lawsuit. While on leave, she said her superiors continued to harass her and threatened to fire her.
"I didn't know why they were treating me that way," Nealy said. "They were trying to fire me basically for nothing."
When Nealy returned to work in March 2016, she was told she was being investigated due to a complaint. Nealy, though, was not given any details about the complaint or who complained, according to the lawsuit.
In June 2016, Nealy was placed on paid administrative leave for alleged "continuing allegations of misconduct," according to the lawsuit.
Nealy said she had planned to work for the police department until retirement.
"I still have not gotten what might be defined as justice but I am trying my best to still heal my heart, not let it stop me from living and not let it take my life from me," she said.