Council backs officer over chief

Wade McIntyre

SORRENTO – The town council unanimously declined to act on a request by Police Chief Earl Theriot to terminate police officer Tina Burd at the meeting Tuesday.

The move to fire Burd came after a lengthy executive session that was called at Theriot’s request for what town attorney Greg Lambert described as considerations of “character and competence.”

Attending the executive session were Theriot, Mayor Brenda Melancon, Lambert, all of the town council members, Burd and her attorney, Charles Dirks.

After the session Theriot asked the council to terminate Burd from the police force, but no council member offered a motion to do so.

Lambert advised the council that Theriot could make another recommendation in hopes of getting a council motion, but Theriot said he would wait until another time.

Burd has filed a complaint against the Town of Sorrento in United States District Court Middle District of Louisiana for discrimination in the workplace because of her sex.

Burd, who lives in East Baton Rouge Parish, also previously filed the charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission alleging the discrimination.

In her court suit, obtained by The Weekly Citizen, Burd said she was hired in March 2007 and worked an average of 40 to 50 hours per week with time and one-half compensation for overtime.

She alleges in the suit that shortly after being hired by the police department she was subjected to sexual harassment from her supervisor, Captain Ryan Guidry.

The suit alleges that throughout Burd’s employment Guidry made patently offensive statements of a sexual nature to her, propositioned her for sexual favors, made sexually suggestive comments and gestures to her, and subjected her to other forms of sexual harassment.

Burd claims in the suit she advised both Guidry, who has left the department to work with the Iberville Sheriff’s Office, and Theriot, that Guidry’s alleged actions were unwarranted, unwelcome and other offensive in nature to her.

In the suit, Burd said she sustained and continues to suffer emotional distress and anxiety from the action of the defendant and its employees, and that she sought medical treatment for her injuries and continues to receive treatment.

Burd, in the suit, requests a trial by jury, and seeks damages, including punitive, with prejudgment interest, attorney’s fees and cost for court proceedings, including expert witness fees.

Both Lambert and Dirks declined comment on the Burd matter after the council adjourned its meeting. Council members also declined comment.

In other business Tuesday, the council:

• Approved an increase to $17 for the monthly town garbage rate. The increase covers paperwork and 99 cents per household increase by garbage contractor Allied Waste.

• Approved a contract renewal for auditing firm Faulk and Winkler LLC for an amount between $15,000 and $16,000.

• Accepted a bid from Grady Melancon for $5,700 to purchase a surplus 1985 tractor and mower.

• Introduced an amendment to the town fireworks ordinance clarifying that the town does not allow fireworks July 5.