Aimee-Lynn Smith, 26, is a former employee of the Smithtown Highway Department. She began working for the town on November 25, 2013. Her tenure as a Smithtown employee ended when she was fired by Superintendent of Highway Glenn Jorgensen, 63, on October 17, 2014. On December 9, 2014 the Town Clerk’s office received a Notice of Claim from Ms. Smith alleging that Glenn Jorgensen sexually harassed her during her tenure at the Highway Department.
NYS law requires a person to file a Notice of Claim prior to suing New York State, local government or a government agency for money damages. According to the Notice of Claim received in the Town Clerk’s office on December 9th, Ms. Smith is seeking damages of $200,000, compensation for losses and benefits “and to be reimbursed for any therapy to which I need due to the ongoing and pervasive sexual harassment and hostile work environment.”
Ms. Smith’s Notice of Claim is a 16-page document (Smithtown Matters obtained a copy of the Notice of Claim) in which Ms. Smith declares that she has been “systematically subjected to an ongoing pattern and practice of: discrimination based on gender, and subjected to a hostile work environment, sexual harassment, and an unlawful termination.” The document goes into great detail about her experience in the highway department from the time she was hired as a secretary in the department until she was fired.
As an example of the harassment Smith describes a Dec. 2013 conversation, “Mr. Jorgensen commented that the man (a man she had been dating) opened the car door for me to get in, which made me uncomfortable because I felt like Mr. Jorgensen was spying on me.” She also describes numerous questions Jorgensen asked about her personal life including questions about dating and who watched her children (Ms. Smith has two children) for the evening. “If I did, the following day I would be peppered with questions about the date: Where did we go to eat, who drove, did he pay and what time did I get home from the date.” states Smith
The document mentions one event in the spring of 2014 which involved physical contact. In the spring of 2014 which took place at the Highway Department yard on Smithtown Bypass ”…Mr. Jorgensen unclasped his hands from behind his back to lift them up and point at something with the tower, hitting my rear. Mr. Jorgensen immediately apologized and claimed he didn’t mean to touch me. However, based on subsequent events and his relative proximity to me, I do not believe it was an accident.”
Time after time Ms. Smith indicates that she was treated differently from other office employees by Jorgensen. She was given business cards and was directed to order a jacket and have it labeled as his secretary, despite the fact that no other office worker had a jacket or business cards. Smith delineates meetings and unnecessary drives she was required to take with Jorgensen including a trip to the Kings Park Psychiatric Center to look at a building, drives past his house, Suffolk County Highway Superintendents Association (SCHSA) where she was being shown off “as many of the men made comments and remarks to Mr. Jorgensen about how “lucky” he was to have me as his personal secretary.”
The 16-page document is filled with examples of how Ms. Smith feels she was put on display, embarrassed and made to feel uncomfortable by Jorgensen. On October 10th, Smith identified a Highway Department employee as a man she was dating. The work relationship with Mr. Jorgensen deteriorated and Ms. Smith was terminated on Oct. 17.
A day after being terminated Smith went to the Department of Public Safety and filed a complaint.
There is little that the Town can do at this point other than wait for the EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) to investigate and issue a report. Neither Glenn Jorgensen nor Aimee-Lynn Smith are union members so the CSEA will not be involved. The Town Board has no authority over the Superintendent of Highway. At some point the complaint may become an issue for Smithtown’s Board of Ethics.
Superintendent of Highway Glenn Jorgensen was first elected in 2009 and was re-elected in 2013. A call to Mr. Jorgensen’s office was not returned. Supervisor Vecchio, Councilman Creighton, Town Attorney Matthew Jakubowski declined to comment.