EEOC complaints against Johnson unresolved

Nearly a year after filing complaints of sexual harassment against Mohave County Supervisor Buster Johnson, two former employees await decisions from a federal agency that investigates workplace discrimination.

Former administrative assistant Marisa Tusa said Equal Employment Opportunity Commission staff in Phoenix informed her recently that the investigation was completed and referred to upper management.

Her former colleague, ex-office clerk Kelly McMahon, said in an e-mail that she has not received word from EEOC regarding any action.

"It's been about a year since filing (the complaint), but we have heard that it can take as long as 18 months," McMahon wrote.

Johnson also said he has not heard from EEOC.

"I would like to see it resolved by now," he said.

Susan Grace, deputy director of the EEOC office in Phoenix, stuck to her previous statement that her agency would not confirm or deny whether Tusa, McMahon or anyone else has filed a complaint, called a charge.

Grace explained that EEOC lacks the authority to file a lawsuit on behalf of people who work in the public sector, such as county government jobs.

"We process those cases all the way, making a finding," Grace said.

"If we find discrimination, we make an attempt to conciliate.

It's a negotiation settlement process.

"We do everything up to the point of filing a lawsuit or issuing the right-to-sue notice," Grace continued.

"That has to be done by the (U.S.) Department of Justice.

Either Justice will file the lawsuit or issue the right-to-sue notice to the charging party."

Grace would not say whether EEOC forwarded the charges from Tusa and McMahon to the Justice Department.

Casey Stavropoulos, a spokeswoman for the Justice Department in Washington, D.C., could not be reached for comment.

Tusa and McMahon said they filed separate charges in April 2002, shortly after a six-week investigation into Johnson's conduct by the county's human resources department.

Tusa and McMahon formerly worked in Johnson's District 3 office in Lake Havasu City.

The human resources investigation had determined Johnson allegedly downloaded Internet pornography in the presence of female employees, made sexist comments, offered to expose himself and engaged in other inappropriate behavior.

Human Resources Director Geoff Riches placed Tusa and McMahon on paid administrative leave and offered to help place them in other county jobs or find them employment elsewhere.

Human resources took no action against Johnson because as an elected official he falls outside county personnel policies.

Johnson denied he sexually harassed Tusa and McMahon but admitted having a physical relationship with Tusa.

Tusa works as human resources technician in Riches' office in Kingman.

McMahon works in the county library branch in Lake Havasu City, where she was recently promoted from clerk to library assistant.