Two Paris Landing State Park employees file sexual harassment lawsuits against state of Tennessee


HENRY COUNTY, Tenn — Two employees with Paris Landing State Park have filed sexual harassment lawsuits against the state of Tennessee.

The women claim they were not properly protected from alleged inappropriate behavior. In a very lengthy court document, the women described the night of a work-related party claiming the former assistant manger of the Paris Landing State Park made inappropriate comments, as well as allegedly made numerous attempts to touch them without their permission. Now both women are seeking up to $750,000 in damages.

A sexual harassment and sexual discrimination lawsuit filed by Christen Patterson and Kelly Phelps, two restaurant servers at the Paris Landing State Park, claim they were sexually harassed by the former assistant park manager Joshua Walsh.

“The state of Tennessee failed to take action that they should have taken to protect my clients,” the plaintiff’s attorney, Jason A. Lee said. “Both of them were required to work around Mr. Walsh after the complaints were made.”

In one suit filed in Davidson County Circuit Court by Patterson, court documents say during an October 2017 Halloween party, dressed as a cop, Walsh allegedly asked to frisk her. The lawsuit also claims Walsh then moved his hands in a way that made it clear he wanted to frisk her breasts with his hands, according to documents filed in court.

The second suit from Phelps, also filed in Davidson County Circuit Court claims Walsh “put his arm around her neck” and pulled her body towards him in a provocative manner during the same party, that is also according to court documents.

“Both of them were required to work around him in the serving area because their both servers and actually had to serve him on occasion,” Lee said.

The plaintiff’s attorney said they are accusing the state of failing to address their complaints of harassment.

“There was a significant time period where the state of Tennessee had this matter and they failed to act appropriately in resolving this situation,” Lee said.

Lee said the women reported the complaint to management and it was then sent to human resources back in November 2017, but court papers show Walsh continued to work with the women as the assistant park manager until January 2018.

“Based on the allegations of the complaint which are pretty significant, severe sexual harassment at this Halloween party, obviously we have concerns about, that my clients are very concerned and that’s why they brought this lawsuit,” Lee said.

WBBJ 7 Eyewitness News was unable to get in contact with Walsh, but state park officials confirm he has been transferred to the Bicentennial Mall State Park just this week. WBBJ 7 Eyewitness News also made calls to the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, that is in charge of answering all questions regarding this case, but so far no one has responded.

Both women are currently still employed by the Paris Landing State Park. Dates for their cases to go to court have not been set.