Ex-Port Allen official alleges harassment, discrimination

A second former Port Allen official filed a sexual harassment and racial discrimination suit Tuesday against the city, alleging her problems began during the administration of former Mayor Derek Lewis, now in federal prison for racketeering.

Cenceria Dalcourt, the city’s former assistant chief administrative officer, alleged in the suit that Lewis began sexually harassing her in April 2010, the month she began working for Port Allen. Both Dalcourt and Lewis are black.

Dalcourt, who filed the suit through attorneys Robert L. Campbell and Dustin G. Flint, said Lewis repeatedly propositioned her for sex, bragged about his sexual prowess “and created a hostile work environment for her.”

Dalcourt said she rejected Lewis’ sexual advances, and he responded by “harassing her … and threatening her job.” She added that she “was in constant fear of her job because of Mayor Lewis’ retaliatory actions.”

During an internal investigation by city officials of another matter, Dalcourt said, she reported Lewis’ alleged harassment.

Lewis was indicted by a federal grand jury in September 2010 on racketeering and fraud charges that grew from an undercover FBI investigation of corruption in several Baton Rouge-area cities. That investigation, which was nicknamed Operation Blighted Officials, used a fictitious company, Cifer 5000, to offer bribes for municipal contracts for garbage can cleaning services.

Lewis later pleaded guilty to one count of racketeering. He was sentenced in June to 40 months in federal prison.

In late 2011, Dalcourt filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. According to her suit, she told federal officials of the sexual harassment and retaliation she alleged against Lewis.

In 2012, Dalcourt said in her suit, she served as the city’s interim chief administrative officer.

Dalcourt said she asked to be made chief administrative officer, but was denied that request when then-Mayor Roger Bergeron and the City Council chose a white candidate in June. The candidate was former Chief of Police Adrian Genre, who had served time in prison “for lying under oath about his racially discriminatory hiring practices,” Dalcourt said in her suit.

In July, Dalcourt added, she was fired for alleged “dishonesty and insubordination.”

Mayor Demetric “Deedy” Slaughter did not respond Tuesday to a request for comment left on her office voicemail. Four attorneys contracted by the city did not respond to voicemail and email requests for comment.

In a separate suit pending in Baton Rouge federal court, Philip Mason, the city’s former assistant chief financial officer, seeks unspecified monetary damages for alleged retaliation and racial discrimination.

Mason, who is black, alleges the City Council denied his request for the vacant chief financial officer’s post in favor of a less-qualified white candidate. Mason, who also complained to the EEOC about sexual harassment of women by Lewis, said he was fired after council members learned of that complaint.