Dumbeck sued

The woman who alleged she was denied multiple promotions because of sexual discrimination at the department of job and family services has sued the agency and its outgoing director. Nichole Baker, who began as a file clerk at the Huron County Department of Job and Family Services (HCDJFS) Jan. 12, 2004, filed a lawsuit Tuesday against the department, the Huron County Commissioners, department director Erich Dumbeck and human resources administrator Bonnie Richards. Baker claims she was passed over for five promotions and has suffered discrimination at work because of "Dumbeck's infatuation with her," according to the complaint.
Norwalk Reflector Staff
Jul 24, 2010


The woman who alleged she was denied multiple promotions because of sexual discrimination at the department of job and family services has sued the agency and its outgoing director.

Nichole Baker, who began as a file clerk at the Huron County Department of Job and Family Services (HCDJFS) Jan. 12, 2004, filed a lawsuit Tuesday against the department, the Huron County Commissioners, department director Erich Dumbeck and human resources administrator Bonnie Richards. Baker claims she was passed over for five promotions and has suffered discrimination at work because of "Dumbeck's infatuation with her," according to the complaint.

Baker alleges that between January 2004 and January 2007 Dumbeck did the following:

"Made unwelcome physical contact ... including but not limited to touching (Baker) on the hips, shoulders and back."

"Made an unwelcome advance toward (Baker) in at a bar in Norwalk."

Sought out Baker's company, both at work and at home, and called her cell phone.

Made suggestive comments to Baker and brought her gifts.

Dumbeck could not be reached for comment, but has in the past declined to speak about Baker's allegations. Dumbeck announced last week that he will be resigning as director of HCDJFS June 1.

The suit states that Dumbeck was married with two children at the time the "unwanted" contact began, and Baker was a single mother of one in a relationship with a single man.

The complaint contends Baker made attempts to remedy the situation in 2004, contacting her union and Richards about the situation. The union did not file a grievance or take another action, and the complaint claims Richards "told (Baker) she was responsible for Defendant Dumbeck's conduct and that (Baker) was 'flattered' to have attention from a powerful man."

Following those attempts, the complaint maintains two anonymous letters were sent to the commissioners later that year stating Dumbeck was "'having an affair with an employee of this agency' and that the affair 'had not been discrete and is causing many problems.'"

Baker said the unwanted behavior continued and, after her fifth failure to obtain a promotion in October 2006, she filed a formal complaint of sexual harassment and hostile work environment with the Huron County Commissioners.

The board assigned its EEO Officer Lynn Chapin to investigate the claim. Chapin found that the decisions to not promote Baker were not related to her relationship with Dumbeck, though Chapin did find that Dumbeck was contacting Baker in a manner Baker found unneeded and undesired.

Baker said she has been discriminated against and is disliked at HCDJFS either for complaining about Dumbeck or for his attention to her, the lawsuit alleges.

The complaint further states that Baker suffered lost wages and opportunity to advance; loss of future earnings and reputation; humiliation, embarrassment and loss of self-esteem; and adverse health effects.

"Dumbeck knew or should have known that his continued inappropriate efforts to establish an intimate relationship with (Baker) caused her serious emotional distress," the complaint states, going on to say his treatment of her was "so extreme and outrageous as to go beyond the bounds of decency and would be considered intolerable by an reasonable person in a civilized community."

Baker has requested the court order the agency to promote her with backpay to the position she failed to get in October 2006, and compensate her for adverse emotional and health effects in addition to a request for punitive damages from Dumbeck and Richards.

Commissioner Mike Adelman said he could not comment directly on the lawsuit, but did say the commissioners stood by Chapin's finding that Baker's claims were unsubstantiated. He said the lawsuit was likely prompted by the board's decision.

"I'm sure she was less than pleased with that," he said.


Sad (Anonymous)

Wow, all these comments make me sad. Why would people want to tear innocent pepole apart? Mr. Dumbecks wife did not ask for any of this. The only two pepole that know exactly what happened are Mr. Dumbeck and Ms. Baker, so why are so many pepole acting like they know what has went on in this situation? Leave the mans wife and family out of this, they don't deserve what is being said about them.

WHATEVER (Anonymous)


Anonymous (Anon...

Is there any way you guys could keep some of the retards our there from leaving their stupid comments? Surely there's some kind of site out there that caters to ignorant white trash who have no better manners than to publicly post some of the things that have gone up here where they would be more at home.

Be decent (Anon...

Wow, we sure are brave when we can say whatever we want without looking someone in the eye. I wonder if every one posting such nasty comments would be so quick to spout their venom if they had to do so face to face. I'm not defending Dumbeck, I don't know what, if anything, he did to this woman. I don't work at job and family services, and have no axe to grind. I'm much more concerned about what this all says about our community. Norwalk and Huron County are great places to live because of the people who live here. If we don't speak up against the loud few people who feel the need to bash others, it will give us all a bad name.

Johnny Dangerou...

Ok, so I have met all of the players in this, Eric, Nicole, and Heather. All of them have done something that anyone can take issue with. No one is innocent, except the kids. But I do have to say that I would probably give my right eye to have an affair with Nikki, with Heather too, they are both HOT in my book.

In all seriousness, this started when they were co-workers. When he was promoted to a supervisor it should have stopped, they both know it. It didn't and when it ended badly, well then it got ugly...

But, all of the problem at Human Services are not Erich's fault. Human Services has been a problem for nearly 20 years. Those who have been around here can remember the stories from the late 80s and early 90s of mishandled child support and other issues out there. Look how many people have been in charge out there over these years.

I remember one case in the 90s where they were still taking child support out of someone's paycheck months after their daughter graduated. Another case I recall they were still collecting child support over a year after the child had died. Can you imagine how that gentleman felt, each paycheck would reinforce the fact that his little girl was gone.

Heartless in No...

I am finding all this anything but entertaining. I hope none of you have to face your maker tonight. I am not sure why you have chosen to be heartless when it comes to a woman who wants her family to stay together. Why don't you move out of the community if you are not happy with how it is being ran. Perhaps you should step up and take over Erich Dumbecks position. Or perhaps apply for any job in the county and see how easy it is working for the public. For those who have been through divorce you know it is not easy but staying in a marriage is harder when you have been a target of so many mean spirited individuals. Good luck to the Dumbecks, Good luck to the county, and Good luck to those who don't know forgiveness.

Knows the truth...

As far as telling Nichoe "you go girl" what kind of tramp sleeps with a married man than wants paid for it, oh that is called a prostitute. Boy, Nichoe your mother must be proud.

Nichoe you know the truth why do you still have your job, just waiting to prey on another married man? Girls watch out she's on the prowl again.

incredible (Ano...

"knows the truth"...i'm sure your mother is very proud of you speaking like this about a woman doing the right thing. so, you have the facts, the proof of anything that is going on here?? didn't think so!!! takes a really special person to call a great single mother this. you have no clue what her son, her mother or herself have been through. who's quitting their job, not nicole, who's house is being foreclosed...not nicole's, who has stood up for what's right and yet again dumbeck is at fault. so next time you decide to make a comment about someone.....stop look in the mirror and realize how freakin ignorant you look and sound. if she was guilty of this, why would should sue and allow her life to be exposed like this. you'll see who prevails in the end and then you'll look like more of an idiot than you already do. we don't know who you are because you are too much of an ignorant fool to say who you are.....scared??? all that will matter when this goes down is you'll feel like more of a FOOL than you already are and you'll meet your maker one day.

Dear Incredible...

How do you know so much about this? Could it be that you are Nichoe and you are trying to gain sympathy to make it look good for you. Many people have seen you chasing married men around downtown, not only at the local bars but any place you can. If Nichoe has been so wrongly done then why is she still chasing him. She may be single but the fact of the matter is that she knew he was married. They both were at fault, the only things that makes sense here is that he chose the better woman. Get over it and move on with your life. You would be much better off not harassing people yourself but it is apparent you have some fans or a fan on your side. I don't see their name posted here either so OUCH with the name calling. By the way, if I meet my maker I'm ready. Thanks for the concern.

hey incredible ...

finally someone with some sense is posting. but guess what? ITS NOT YOU. Why hasn't she admitted to the affair? Oh because you don't get paid for affairs, now do you?

incredible (Ano...

i am very aware of the situation and her. you can go on and on but like i said before the truth will prevail. and still chasing him......that's about as ridiclous as saying she stalks his wife. where do you morons come up with this. why would she admit to something that didn't happen. and going after married men in the bars and such....wow....you're really reaching here. sounds to me like somebody's jealous of who she is......don't blame ya...she's a wonderful mother and friend. get a life!!!

anonymous (Anon...

Shouldn't married men avoid picking up other women at bars? I think I would have a problem with my husband picking up other women anywhere. Isn't Nicole single? Why is it when married people behave like they're single, they are shocked when their lives fall apart? I wouldn't feel to deserving of my husband and my kids if I behaved like Eric. What we do in our lives, good or bad, comes back to us.

I'll pass (Anon...

This is the first time I have read the Norwalk Reflector online and am disgusted with the low-class comments directed at the Dumbeck family. I am certain that most (if not all) of those ignorant entries were written by Ms. Baker. She clearly has mental and/or emotional problems.

AMAZED (Anonymous)

Comment removed.

In all reality ...

What this rag is allowing to go on their website is ridiculous. The fact that so many people are buying into it is also ridiculous. The FACT that Eric and Nichole had an affair proves that both of them made mistakes. Ms. Baker should never have pursued a married man. Mr. Dumbeck should have avoided her like the plague. His wife had nothing to do with it. Calling Eric a pig is wrong. Calling Ms. Baker a tramp is wrong. None of us have any business commenting on their lives, unless of course you're perfect. And the only person who owns that title is Jesus Christ. So in the name of all that is decent, moral, and right, leave these people alone. Why not extend a little grace towards them since we've all committed our fair share of sins, myself included. Judge not lest ye be judged. (That's in the Bible for any of you who think I'm spouting off self-righteous nonsense). Why not avoid the temptation to buy into this cheap entertainment. Norwalk's got a great theater now-go there instead. Who knows when you might find yourself in a situation where your business is made public? Take the high road people. To the editors and staff of this paper, your little note posted on 4/24 asks that people TRY (what's that all about? just say don't do it!) to refrain from name calling. You've allowed posts that call Eric a pig and Nichole a tramp though? And how many of these comments have sparked a "spirited debate"? Most of them are hurtful and slanderous. As far as you allowing people to criticize Eric's wife (and for those of you who have), what's she done? Last I checked, defending your family was neither criminal nor antagonistic. Why comment at all, but if comment you must, leave his wife and kids out of it. Again I urge all of you who have trashed Eric, Heather, or Nichole to stop. Why not try extending some mercy the same way Christ?

I'll Pass (Anon...

Like I said......mental and/or emotional. Most likely both.

AMAZED (Anonymous)


anonymous (Anon...

"I'll pass" must have a cheating spouse. One would have to be mentally and emotionally disturbed to go on with a toxic relationship(Eric & Heather). Heather, you give new meaning to "DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES". Because that's what you are. What do any of us care if you don't mind sharing your husband. It does not take strength to stay with a liar and a cheater. A strong self-respecting woman would have already left.

big mountain (A...

Your cautioning is too late, Reflector Staff. Our local paper has now sadly joined the ranks of the out-of-county tabloids. Too bad.

to "reality" (A...

Freedom of speech is a right I don't plan to give up. If people's comments are so bothersome to you, MOVE ON TO THE NEXT STORY! Everyone has the right to their different opinions.

waddup (Anonymous)

I think a few people should be fired out there. The lawsuit appears to me to be frivilous. You have to know your advances are unwelcomed, Im not sure that was the case here at least from reading the article. It seems there's enough blame to go around. Im more concerned with the effectiveness of the organization. How come the Sheriff's department isn't taking heat for some of the failed criminal investigations blamed on this office. I'm just asking...not defending or accusing.

Hey (Anonymous)

Very true. I can remember years back reading about children in Monroeville where the Huron County sheriff's department removed a severely negleted and abused child from the home. Huron County children services didn't see a need to do anything and the sheriff's department went over them and took ONE child. This was big news at the time because there were other children that were left in the home with the abusive people. The officers and the social workers should have been reprimanded. Some people in authority don't take their positions seriously enough. These are the kind of people that don't have any business in public service.