The personnel director in Jefferson Parish is accused in a federal lawsuit filed Thursday of making crude sexual advances toward a female colleague and then retaliating against her when she rebuffed him.
The suit describes a conversation between Jefferson Parish Personnel Director John Dumas and the plaintiff, Zakita Dillon, in which Dumas allegedly asked whether she was wearing underwear, urged her to spread her legs and told her, "I could just see me putting you on top of this desk."
Dumas allegedly added, "I just wanted to take a peep."
He also hugged her repeatedly and told her that he would miss her "pretty face" after receiving a promotion that meant moving to a different office, according to the suit.
When she refused his advances, Dumas retaliated by denying her the opportunity to work on a special project and then refused to provide her the information she needed to appeal the denial, the suit alleges.
A parish spokesman declined to comment on the allegations. Efforts to reach Dumas were unsuccessful.
Dumas reports to the parish's Personnel Board.
Dillon, who worked in the Public Works Department, is represented by attorney Jack E. "Bobby" Truitt, who in 2015 negotiated a six-figure settlement with Jefferson Parish for Heather Hilliard, a parish employee in the John Young administration who accused her superiors of failing to protect her from repeated sexual harassment.
Dillon's suit claims that the harassment she experienced began when Dumas was an assistant human resources director.
He would call her and ask what she was wearing, or say that he saw her walking to her car and that he admired the dress she was wearing — remarks that made Dillon uncomfortable, the suit says.
When he was promoted to personnel director, Dumas was moved to a new office on the West Bank and told Dillon the promotion was "bittersweet, because he would not be able to see her 'pretty face' every day," the suit says.
When he occasionally came to the east bank, he would call her into an office there and hug her, something Dillon considered "innocent at first," but which eventually made her uncomfortable. It was during one of these meetings that he "made a motion" for her to open her legs, the suit says.
When she asked him what he was doing, he replied, "Do you have on underwear? I could just see me putting you on top of this desk. I just wanted to take a peep," according to the suit.
Dillon claims that she responded by jumping up and telling Dumas that he was acting inappropriately.
In April 2015, while the harassment was still allegedly going on, she applied for a special project through the Personnel Department, the suit says. After 14 months of review, her application was denied.
When she inquired about an appeal, she was told there was no opportunity for one. Dillon then went to Parish Councilman Mark Spears, who called both her and Dumas into meetings. Soon afterward, she received notice that her appeal had been received, the suit says.
But later, after she had asked Dumas to explain what information was needed and whether she would need to attend an appeal hearing, he told her that it wasn't necessary, the suit says. It says she later found out that was not the case.
A grievance she filed with the parish was unsuccessful, the suit says.
Editor's note: This story was altered on Feb. 2, 2018, to reflect John Dumas' correct title.