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Port Lavaca woman files lawsuit over wrongful firing, accuses county official of voyeurism

By BY GHENI PLATENBURG - GPLATENBURG@VICAD.COM
Sept. 20, 2011 at 4:20 a.m.
Updated Sept. 21, 2011 at 4:21 a.m.


A Port Lavaca woman is suing a Calhoun County commissioner over claims that she was wrongfully fired after reporting his alleged voyeurism.

Amanda Guillen filed the lawsuit in federal court earlier this month.

In her lawsuit, Guillen claims defendant Calhoun County Precinct 2 Commissioner Vern Lyssy invaded her privacy and violated her civil rights when he fired her after she made a harassment complaint about an alleged hidden camera.

Calhoun County is also named as a defendant in the case.

"I believe the case is without merit, but I will help to defend the county in court," said Lyssy.

Calhoun County Assistant District Attorney Shannon Salyer, who is representing Calhoun County, could not be reached for comment.

Messages left for Guillen's attorneys were not returned as of Tuesday evening.

Guillen worked as the office manager for Precinct 2, for more than five years, sharing an office with the commissioner.

On April 22, 2010, after being warned by a fellow employee, Guillen discovered a camera hidden in a speaker on Lyssy's desk, according to the lawsuit.

The camera was pointed directly at her desk, according to the lawsuit.

Because she often changed clothes in the office because there was not a women's restroom, Guillen said she felt her privacy had been invaded.

The lawsuit contends the day after Guillen discovered the camera, she wrote a letter to Calhoun County Judge Mike Pfeifer and the commissioners court, in which she complained about the camera and voiced her feelings of being harassed and violated.

About a week later, Lyssy fired Guillen simply giving the explanation, "It wasn't working out."

Later on, false reasons were given to justify Guillen's termination as well as prevent her from obtaining unemployment benefits, according to the lawsuit.

Given the timing of the firing, however, she equates her termination as retaliation for her harassment complaint, violating federal and state law.

Guillen is seeking both punitive and compensatory damages for past, present and future lost income, back wages, interest on back pay, past and future employment benefits and attorney's fees.

She also seeks damages for mental anguish.

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