by: Jamie Smith Updated:JACKSONVILLE, Fla. —
Public defender Matt Shirk will now have to defend himself from his former employee who’s suing him, alleging his office was a hostile work environment.
An administrative assistant is suing Shirk for sexual harassment, libel and gender discrimination.
Tiffany Ice is one of the three woman who were fired from Shirk’s office allegedly after the public defender’s wife, Michelle Shirk, confronted Ice in the office, accusing her of having an affair with the public defender.
Action News uncovered months ago, through a public records requests, a string of text messages between Shirk and Ice, in which the two discussed getting drunk for Ice’s 30th birthday.
But some text messages were redacted.
Tiffany Ice’s lawsuit filed Aug. 20 now claims that after Shirk installed a private shower in his office at the City Hall annex, he sent a text to her phone inviting Ice to take a shower with him.
Ice claims she denied her boss’s advances then, and again later when she said Shirk later sent her an electronic greeting card with a picture of a man and a woman and a caption reading, “I think if we had sex there would be very minimal awkwardness afterwards.”
The suit also seeks damages from Ron Mallett, Shirks’ chief of staff, who fired Ice for poor performance. Ice claims she was let go because of her gender.
Shirk did not comment Monday, but his lawyer, Damon Kitchen, told Action News, “While he vigorously denies Ms. Ice’s claims of discrimination and wrongdoing, he strongly believes in our country’s legal system and institutions and has faith that they will fully vindicate him.”
Kitchen said Shirk is still devoting his efforts to his job as public defender. The state attorney investigation into Shirk’s office is still ongoing.