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Suit says airport's Motz made 'inappropriate' advances

March 16, 2005|by PEPPER BALLARD

pepperb@herald-mail.com

HAGERSTOWN - A 60-year-old Fairplay man alleges his former supervisor, Hagerstown Regional Airport Manager Carolyn Motz, made "inappropriate" advances toward him and then fired him from his job as maintenance equipment operator based on his gender, according to a lawsuit filed Monday in Washington County Circuit Court.

The lawsuit filed by Larry Ardinger, of 16750 Spielman Road in Fairplay, through his attorney Caren S. Hersh, names the Washington County government as the defendant in the lawsuit.

The suit alleges that Motz, a county employee, made advances toward him between June 2002 and February 2003, including showing him "stitches removed from having moles removed from her breast" and pulling her blouse off her shoulder to show him a farmer's tan.

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Ardinger alleges in the lawsuit that in October 2003 he sent her a letter telling her about "the rumors that her actions were perpetrating and asked her to behave herself." The suit says that about 12 days later he was fired from the job he held since June 1997.

He is requesting a finding of sex/gender discrimination, compensatory damages, punitive damages, attorney fees and costs and pre- and post-judgment interest, according to the suit. Specific amounts were not listed. He is requesting a jury trial.

Ardinger said in the lawsuit that he has received a right to sue letter from the United States Equal Opportunity Commission, dated Dec. 14, 2004.

When reached by phone Tuesday afternoon, Motz, upon being told of the lawsuit, said, "You've got to be kidding me."

She said she would call County Attorney Richard W. Douglas.

Jonathan Topazian, labor counsel for Washington County, later called to say that he was "familiar with Mr. Ardinger's allegations. We are convinced that there is no factual or legal basis for his lawsuit. We intend to defend his lawsuit vigorously and beyond that it is not our policy to comment" on pending litigation.

Topazian said he is with the Baltimore and Washington, D.C., law firm, Semmes, Bowen and Semmes.

Ardinger, when reached by phone Tuesday afternoon, said, "I'm not supposed to make any statements."

He said he is 60 years old.

Hersh, a Rockville, Md.-based attorney, was unavailable for comment Tuesday afternoon.

Ardinger alleges in the suit that between June 2002 and February 2003, Motz pulled her dress up her leg to show him a dog on her lap, told Ardinger her golf swing was not good as she stuck out her chest, saying "you don't have these hanging in front of you" and gave him an hour tour of her house when he went with her there to exchange vehicles, according to the suit.

Another employee had told Ardinger that "everybody thinks she is sleeping with you," the suit alleges. That comment prompted him to write a letter to Motz, telling her that her actions were causing "other airport employees to think an affair was taking place between them and causing him to be uncomfortable in the workplace," according to allegations in the suit.

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