Buttross Hit With Lawsuit

Former employees file claim against county commissioner candidate

Two former employees have filed a sex discrimination lawsuit against business owner David Buttross, a candidate for the Precinct 2 seat on the Travis County Commissioners Court. In the petition filed Oct. 12, former employees Karen Hoffman and Annette Frazier accuse Buttross of creating a hostile work environment by "engaging in severe and pervasive verbal and psychological abuse" that began in January 2009 and ended when the women quit the same year. Hoffman, who served as chief financial officer for Buttross Properties, left in August 2009, after eight years of employment, and Frazier, the company's director of property management, resigned about four months later, the suit states. Hoffman also served as campaign treasurer for Buttross' unsuccessful 2009 bid for mayor.

The plaintiffs' attorney, Kerry O'Brien, initially filed complaints against Buttross with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which dismissed both claims – an action O'Brien says is fairly common for the EEOC. "It says absolutely nothing about the merits of the case," he said. O'Brien noted that the timing of the lawsuit was dictated by the timing of the EEOC's decision, which includes a window of time in which a lawsuit can be filed. In this case the claim could have been brought after the Nov. 2 election, but O'Brien said he saw no need to wait. "I wanted to get his attention," O'Brien said. "I don't believe [Buttross] deserves any special accommodations because of the election."

Buttross denied the allegations and wondered aloud why newspapers are quick to paint him in a negative light, "without bothering to mention all the wonderful things that I do." He said his philanthropic efforts include donations to several local nonprofits and that he has helped more than 1,000 renters become homeowners. "I've done a ton of amazing things for the city of Austin, and the city of Austin owes me a debt of gratitude."

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