Auburn Senior Planner Files Sexual Harassment Suit

The City of Auburn is being sued by a senior planner who accuses City Manager John Donlevy of gender discrimination and sexual harassment.

The suit was filed on Nov. 3 by Tonya Ward, who has worked for the city since 2018. Among other things, she alleges that Donlevy denied her certain permissions because of her gender. When hiring an assistant, he “openly told staff that he would only hire a woman and she would have to be ‘cute as a button,’” the lawsuit claims.

The complaint further alleges that “when he (Donlevy) was explaining a repair to a sewer line, he told the woman employee, ‘it’s just like putting a condom on,’ and ‘you know what I mean.’”

“Multiple women employees complained to Plaintiff (Ward) that they were ‘grossed out, creeped out’ or disgusted by Donlevy,” according to the lawsuit.

Ward claims she brought her complaint to the city attorney, but that Donlevy continued to mistreat her afterward.  She took “stress leave” in 2021 and, when she returned, Donlevy allegedly retaliated against her.

Ward filed complaints with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) on Sept. 10, 2021. Less than two weeks later, she says she was reprimanded by Donlevy both verbally and in writing.

Donlevy announced his impending retirement from city government last month.

Read more about the lawsuit here