Zach Thompson had been director of Dallas County Health and Human Services since 2003.
Zach Thompson had been director of Dallas County Health and Human Services since 2003.
Brian Maschino

Fired County Health Chief's Accuser Alleges "Pattern of Coerced Sexual Abuse, Harassment and Intimidation"

The woman whose sexual misconduct allegations led to the firing of Dallas County Heath and Human Services Director Zachary Thompson claims that Thompson coerced her into a series of sex acts over a two-year period that caused her to become "depressed, and, on a few dark days, suicidal."

"Zachary Thompson’s pattern of coerced sexual abuse, harassment, and intimidation began in 2013," the unnamed woman writes in a statement provided by her law firm. "I endured the abuse because I was fearful of losing my job if I refused his approaches; he had made it clear on multiple occasions with comments such as 'you do like your job, right?' and 'where do you think you’ll go where you can make as much money as you make here?' and 'I’m your boss.'”

For the next two years, the woman says, the "coerced sex acts" continued. She began to make efforts to avoid Thompson in 2015.

"I began intentionally avoiding him, especially at the end of the day; making excuses as to why I couldn’t work in evenings; ensuring to walk with other colleagues to the parking lot; and not working late when his car was there," the woman writes.

After she rebuffed Thompson's physical attacks, he retaliated against her in the workplace, the woman says, changing her job title, work hours and parking space. Thompson wrote her up for bad job performance six times from 2015-17, the woman says, making her fear for her job. After missing a deadline to file a reply grievance in August, the woman successfully filed a grievance against Thompson in December.

According to the woman, Dallas County's human resources department "callously and ineptly" mishandled her grievance. The department's interim director, Urmit Graham, who declined to comment when reached by the Observer on Friday afternoon, threatened her with a polygraph and asked if she "like[d] men in power," according to the woman's statement. It wasn't until she hired a lawyer, the woman says, that the county fired Thompson in January.

Anthony Lyons, Thompson's attorney, denied the woman's allegations.

"This is not Zachary Thompson. This is not the director of the Department of Health and Human Services who has served for 20 years. He's had an impeccable reputation for the last 20 years as an employee of Dallas County. He denies and continues to deny any violations of county policy," Lyons said.

Lyons pointed to the timing of the accusations as a potential sign of the motive of Thompson's accuser, insinuating that the accusations might have been made in retaliation.

"Now we know that there is a disciplinary action involved with this victim subsequent to the 2013-15 allegations," Lyons said. "After these alleged acts, we know there's a disciplinary action."

While Lyons said that neither he nor Thompson knew the identity of the woman making the accusations, he couldn't say whether Thompson had ever had a personal relationship any women on his staff during his time at DCHHS.

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