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Former official is on ‘fishing expedition,’ county claims

The gender discrimination lawsuit against Chesterfield County filed by a former human resources director has lawyers trading sharp words over discovery.

Karla Gerner is on a “fishing expedition” with requests for personnel records for male former administrators in the county government, the county claims in a recent brief. The county attorney also accuses Gerner’s lawyers of eagerness to “try this case in the newspaper,” referring to a recent article in the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

Gerner’s colorfully worded brief on a motion to compel claims a “Good Ol’ Boy” network provided lavish severance packages to certain male administrators, but denied similar benefits to Gerner when her job was eliminated.

The county claims Gerner is trying to smear the former county officials. Gerner’s pleadings “disparage the professional and personal reputation of the four males and raise irrelevant allegations about their personal, professional, financial, and family lives,” the county’s brief contends. The county agrees it will provide copies of the requested severance packages, but objects to providing other portions of the personnel files.

The discovery dispute is before U.S. District Judge John A. Gibney Jr.

Gerner was terminated in 2009 after 26 years of county service. Her lawsuit initially was dismissed by U.S. District Judge Henry E. Hudson before being reinstated on appeal by a panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

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