Complaint filed

Published 10:51 pm Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Ex-registrar lodges harassment charge against boss

A former voter registrar has filed a formal complaint with the Commonwealth’s Attorney about her treatment at and dismissal from the registrar’s office.

Sharon P. Thornhill worked in the office for 27 years as assistant registrar and registrar before she says she was forced to resign after confronting Electoral Board Secretary David Sylvia about a sexually inappropriate email he sent her.

Thornhill says Sylvia sent the email, titled “14 steps to putting on a bikini,” in April. It shows 14 photos of a naked woman having body paint applied to resemble a flower-print bikini.

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Sylvia has admitted sending the email but insists he did not mean to send it to Thornhill. He also says she tried to use it to blackmail him into getting a positive review.

Thornhill’s complaint is against Sylvia and the city, according to a copy of it that has been sent to City Council members.

“I was forced to resign as Voter Registrar after I confronted David Sylvia about a very explicit pornographic e-mail he sent me,” Thornhill wrote. “His actions caused me extreme embarrassment, humiliation and anguish on my job, and led to many sleepless nights, physical distress and undue stress.”

Within days of receiving the email, Thornhill says, she notified the city’s human resources department. She has not received acknowledgement of her complaint, she wrote in the complaint to the Commonwealth’s Attorney.

Also in her complaint, Thornhill accuses Sylvia of compounding the sexual harassment by his role in requiring her to take a course in communications, “which I know no other registrar was required to do,” she said. She also was required to complete a “work flow office management plan,” which has never been required of other registrars, she said.

“I believe I have been discriminated against because of my sex and retaliated against for complaining of the offensive sexual material sent to me by David Sylvia,” Thornhill says.

The complaint also was sent to the State Board of Elections and to the Circuit Court judges, it says.