Matt Shirk accused of sexual harassment, gender discrimination in federal court

by: Jamie Smith Updated:

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Public Defender Matt Shirk is facing a lawsuit.

Tiffany Ice filed suit in federal court, accusing Shirk of gender discrimination, hostile work environment, libel per se, and sexual harassment.

Ron Mallett is also named in the lawsuit, facing accusations of gender discrimination and sexual harassment.

According to the lawsuit, the Public Defender's Office hired Ice on April 9, 2012, as a part-time administrative assistant.

Ice received a promotion to a full-time position as a felony intake administrator on Sept. 4, 2012, until her termination on June 13, 2013 by Mallett, Shirk's chief of staff.

Ice claims in her lawsuit Shirk had a private shower installed in his office and sent her a text message asking her to take a shower with him in it.

She also claimed he sent an electronic greeting card with a picture of a man and a woman.  The caption read, according to the lawsuit, "I think if we had sex there would be very minimal awkwardness afterwards."

Ice, according to the lawsuit, declined both advances.

Ice also claims Shirk's wife had a key card granting her access to the office, which, according to the lawsuit, is a violation of office policy.

The lawsuit also detailed a confrontation between Ice and Matt Shirk's wife.  Ice claimed Mrs. Shirk told her to either gather her stuff and leave the office, give two weeks notice and resign, or be prepared to be fired.

The day after the confrontation, Ice claimed Mallett reassigned her.  She said the two met several times over concerns about her job performance and ultimately, Mallet's decision to terminate her.

Ice's termination came a week after two other women, identified in the lawsuit as former  Whisky River employees  Kayle Chester and Kristal Coggins, were fired from the Public Defender's Office.

The lawsuit claims male employees in the office were not subject to repeated, explicit sexual advances and that Shirk and Mallett made "false, stigmatizing statements publicly" in the media showing Ice "was a bad employee and could not adequately perform her job."

Ice's complaint seeks a jury trial and monetary damages, attorney's fees and costs for the "deprivation of Plaintiff's right's secured by the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution."

Action News placed a call in to the Public Defender's Office for comment.  We have not heard back.


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