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Sheriff’s office dismissed as defendant in discrimination lawsuit

MADISON COUNTY, Ala. – A federal judge has dismissed the Madison County Sheriff’s Office as a defendant in a deputy’s discrimination lawsuit.

The judge ruled Tuesday that the sheriff’s office could not be sued by Gregory Gray, according to federal court records.

Former sheriff Blake Dorning, the Madison County Commission, all current members of the Madison County Commission with the exception of JesHenry Malone, former sheriff’s office chief deputy and current Madison Police Chief David Jernigan,  county human resources director Jermie Howell and deputy director Pam Flory are also listed as defendants in the suit.

Gray sued the sheriff’s office in November 2017, claiming he was discriminated against for helping then-deputy Shelby Holt with a harassment claim against the sheriff’s office.

Holt sued the sheriff’s office, claiming she was sexually harassed and was fired when she brought it to light. Her attorney left the case due to health issues, and her lawsuit was eventually tossed out of court when she failed to get a new lawyer or meet court-ordered deadlines.

Gray claims in his lawsuit that the sheriff’s office retaliated against him for helping Holt, including suspending him for two weeks without pay, taking him off the county’s SWAT team indefinitely and ordering him to see a counselor before he could return to work.

The rest of the defendants in Gray’s lawsuit have also filed motions to have the case dismissed. A conference on those motions is scheduled for Jan. 23.

Gray is one of three current or former employees with lawsuits pending against the sheriff’s office.

Investigator Marina Garcia claims when she complained about the culture of harassment and a supervisor’s relationship with a subordinate in her office and tried to share her recording, she was punished, threatened and demoted.

Accountant Erica Cagle claims she was repeatedly sexually harassed and retaliated against when she spoke up.

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