Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill Jr. is asking a federal court to dismiss the sexual harassment lawsuits filed last month against him and the state by four women who claim Hill groped them at a bar during a party celebrating the adjournment of the 2018 General Assembly.
Hill argues that the cases should not proceed to trial because the women are not entitled to seek relief in federal court due to their employment status, and Hill's alleged sexual misconduct did not occur at the workplace, among other reasons.
Specifically, Hill said because the women all are employed by the state's legislative branch, either as a lawmaker — state Rep. Mara Candelaria Reardon, D-Munster — or high-level staffers, they are specifically excluded from the harassment and retaliation protections available under federal law to most other workers.
Hill also notes that under Indiana law legislators and their staffers fall outside the traditional state employment system, and are not subject to centralized hiring and supervision, "which completely undermines any [civil rights] claims against the state."
Responding to the lawsuit against him personally, Hill said his behavior after midnight at an Indianapolis bar more than a mile from the Statehouse did not occur in his capacity as attorney general.
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Rather, it was similar to the actions of any "party-goer late at night," he said.
Hill also observes that the women cannot plausibly claim Hill is responsible for any workplace retaliation and discrimination following the incident, since Hill is not their employer or supervisor, and Hill works in the executive, instead of legislative, branch of government.
In short, Hill said the lawsuits against him are "generously larded with unsupported legal conclusions" and must be dismissed.
Court records show Federal Magistrate Judge Doris Pryor has scheduled a Sept. 13 pretrial conference to consider Hill's motion.
Records also indicate that the attorney general's office is responding to the lawsuit on behalf of the state, while Hill has hired the Hammond law firm of Eichhorn and Eichhorn to represent him personally.