‘No workplace is immune’ to harassment, says former state worker behind tort claim
In October, Sue Wigdorski left her position as the executive director of the Idaho Education Association without much explanation.
But in January 2018, she penned a letter to the IEA board that accused Kari Overall, now the IEA president, of sexual harassment against the teacher union’s employees, according to an Idaho Reports article published Wednesday. Wigdorski also implied her departure was partially due to her working rapport with Overall.
“There was a formal sexual harassment complaint lodged against your IEA president,” wrote Wigdorski in her Jan. 25 letter to the board. “Senior staff were made aware of this complaint, communicated their concerns to me, and requested that there be a formal investigation.”
IEA on Tuesday told Idaho Reports in a prepared statement that “the letter written and improperly distributed by a former Idaho Education Association employee contains false information and inaccurate, unsubstantiated claims.”
According to the letter, Overall was ordered through a settlement to change her behavior.
“There was a written settlement agreement reached with the employee,” Wigdorski wrote. “The agreement specified that your IEN president would need to agree to modify her behavior in several ways… She also agreed to attend sexual harassment training.”
Wigdorski claimed the alleged inappropriate actions were not an isolated incident.
“Your president began to behave in similar inappropriate ways with other staff from both the IEA and the state Department, ” Wigdorski wrote. “This behavior was the source of conversation with stakeholders and was a source of embarrassment, stress and constant vigilance by me.”
In its statement to Idaho Reports, the IEA did not rule anything out in response to the Wigdorski.
“The IEA will pursue all avenues necessary to protect the integrity of the association and its president.”
Wigdorski closed the letter implying her continued employment at the IEA was put in jeopardy by her relationship with Overall.
“(Overall) informed me that she was not inclined to recommend me for another contract because ‘I did not respect her enough,’” Wigdorski wrote.
“I apologize once again for not keeping the IEA Board informed about the behaviors of their leader,” Wigdorski added. “I did not understand what it would cost us all.”
The IEA told Idaho Reports in its statement that the association will not be distracted by this letter.
“The IEA remains committed to advocating for our members and our students and will not be distracted by these false claims from a former employee,” the statement said.
Idaho Reports reached out to Wigdorski for comment on her letter.
“I do not have a statement at this time,” said Wigdorski.