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A former supervisor at the York County Department of Emergency Services is suing the agency, alleging he was wrongfully fired for false sexual harassment claims and had his personal phone illegally searched by county officials.

Douglas Eash, of West York, filed a lawsuit Jan. 24 in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania to combat what the complaint alleges are false sexual harassment allegations that led to his termination on July 3, 2018.

Eash, who had served in the position since 2007, is seeking a trial by jury and an amount in excess of $150,000 in damages, legal fees and other costs. He is being represented by Jeremy Donham of Donham Law in Springettsbury Township.

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"Mr. Eash intends to fully pursue his remedies in the court of law and recover his reputation with respect to the allegations which were made against him, which were completely false," Donham said. "He had just wanted to be treated with dignity."

According to the complaint, Eash had off-the-clock Facebook Messenger conversations with a woman referred to as "C.H.," which included consensual talks of sexual preferences and stress relief methods.

Termination: But he was fired shortly after a meeting with Deputy Director of Human Resources Kimberly Rinker and East End Human Resources Representative Ashli Stroud on June 29, 2018.

The complaint states Eash was mandated to an overnight dispatcher shift prior to the meeting and was not given advance notice or a workplace policy-mandated witness during the interaction.

When the HR employees tried to initiate conversation about the Facebook messages, Eash reportedly declined to discuss such personal matters and tried to leave to go to a doctor's appointment.

However, Rinker and Stroud wouldn't allow him to leave the meeting until he gave up his cell phone, which he did so under duress and fear for his job, the complaint states.

The plaintiff was promptly fired for disregard for policies, procedures and rules in performance of job duties; theft or any form of dishonesty; instigating dissatisfaction among fellow employees; and sexual harassment, the complaint notes.

As a result, Eash is suing on the grounds of defamation; invasion of privacy; deprivation of liberty interest; illegal search and seizure; and wrongful termination.

He claims the county not only failed to conduct a proper investigation but also confiscated his personal cell phone and went through private text messages and pictures without his consent.

Eash has suffered damages, emotional harm, loss of professional reputation and deprivation of due rights as a result of the termination, the complaint states.

York County spokesman Mark Walters declined to comment, citing the county's policy of not commenting on pending litigation.

Background: The complaint contends that in June 2018 Eash initiated contact with a new 911 center employee referred to as "C.H." during off-the-clock hours, from which the two developed a friendship and participated in work-related conversations.

Eash wasn't the individual's supervisor, and the two later engaged in talks about stress relief and sexual preferences. Eash sent pictures, too. 

The lawsuit alleges Eash was singled out for punishment. In one example cited, the lawsuit contends employees participated in wild parties and inappropriate behavior while attending the annual Association of Public Safety Communications Officials conference. 

No court dates have yet been set for the case.

Editor's note: The second paragraph of this article has been updated to clarify the complaint states the plaintiff was wrongfully fired for false sexual harassment allegations.

— Logan Hullinger can be reached at lhullinger@yorkdispatch.com or via Twitter at @LoganHullYD.

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