EEOC Takes Up Balcombe’s Case

Former Travis County court reporter who claimed sexual harassment and retaliation will get a hearing

April Balcombe
April Balcombe (Photo by Jana Birchum)

The Travis County court reporter who claimed she was sexually harassed by a colleague, retaliated against, and denied a trial in federal court due to a Title VII Civil Rights Act loophole known as personal staff exemption may get her day in court. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is moving forward with April Balcombe's case under the 1991 Government Employees Rights Act. A tentative hearing has been set for the week of Dec. 10; though it will be held in Aus­tin, an out-of-state judge has been hired to preside.

Balcombe was Judge Elisabeth Earle's court reporter for 10 months in 2015. She claims the court's deputy bailiff Vince Wade made unsolicited sexual comments, but when she denied his advances he became cold and distant. She filed a complaint with Earle, and was soon after fired. Balcombe claimed it was retaliatory, while the county argued she was let go for "performance deficiencies." Her case was dismissed last October, due to a loophole that protects elected officials from being sued by their personal staff.

Balcombe said she wanted to thank whoever it was that made the anonymous tip to her lawyer about the Government Employees Rights Act. "Thank you for protecting our civil rights," she said. "Now I will have a fair discovery and a fair hearing in front of a highly qualified, administrative law judge."

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

April Balcombe, Elisabeth Earle

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