SAN ANTONIO – A lawsuit filed in state district court late last month accuses officials with Education Service Center Region 20 of targeting an employee and ultimately firing her after she refused to discipline a co-worker who complained about sexually charged text messages sent by a supervisor.
The lawsuit is the second one filed against Region 20, a non-regulatory agency that oversees school operations in the San Antonio area, regarding the incident in as many months.
A lawsuit filed in federal court in November claims Region 20 kept the supervisor employed while terminating the position of the male subordinate who reported the inappropriate messages.
The male employee, who responded to the messages for a certain period of time, later alerted management to the inappropriate communication, according to ESC records.
“Riding (redacted) on ur (redacted) and (redacted). I’m on top guy laying down relaxing. I like to (redacted),” program coordinator Kim Vinton said in one message, describing a graphic sexual encounter.
A source said the male employee was ordered by Vinton to delete many of the messages, but he had already taken screenshots of many of the conversations.
The second lawsuit claims Vinton went a step further and ordered a female employee to target the man and write him up after he reported Vinton to management.
After the woman turned in an accurate personnel evaluation of the man, a second supervisor, Nicole Smith, ordered that it be altered negatively, the lawsuit claims.
“The stress of being ordered to scrutinize (redacted)'s work and be an instrument of retaliatory conduct and hostile work environment affected Plaintiff’s emotional well being and subjected her to a hostile work environment as well,” the suit claims.
The suit states the woman was later wrongfully terminated.
Records show the male employee who turned in Vinton later had his position terminated and was instead in 2017 offered a part-time instructor position for significantly less pay.
Vinton was placed in "job in jeopardy" status after the inappropriate conversations came to light, according to ESC personnel paperwork.
However, Vinton stayed in the position another three months until being reassigned to a grant coordinator position within the agency, records show.
A Region 20 spokeswoman confirmed Wednesday that both Vinton and Smith remain employed there.
“Education Service Center, Region 20 acknowledges that we are aware of the lawsuits which have been filed recently. ESC-20 denies any of the wrongdoing alleged in the lawsuits and it is our practice not to comment on any personnel related matters,” spokeswoman Briana Garcia said via email Wednesday.