Planet Bluegrass owner Craig Ferguson, who oversees some of the region’s best-known and longest-running roots-music festivals, is being sued by a former employee who alleges persistent sexual harassment, unwanted touching and wrongful termination.
The woman, who The Denver Post isn’t naming because she is the victim of alleged sexual harassment, also included the Telluride Bluegrass Festival (aka Planet Bluegrass) and its related Annex (aka “the farm”) in the lawsuit, which was filed Friday in Boulder County District Court.
The legal action follows Ferguson’s arrest and jailing in June for violating a permanent restraining order against the woman that had been granted by a Boulder County judge for his “credible threat to (the plaintiff’s) life and health,” according to court filings.
Planet Bluegrass owns and produces events such as Telluride Bluegrass Festival (which took place June 15-18), Rockygrass Festival (July 28-30) and the Rocky Mountain Folks Fest — which returns Aug. 11-13, in Lyons.
The plaintiff is represented by Boulder attorney Paul Maxon, who couldn’t be reached for comment on Monday.
Lawyer Jon Banashek, who is representing Ferguson and Planet Bluegrass, on Monday confirmed that Ferguson had received the complaint, “which includes consequential charges, to which we will respond in court.”
The lawsuit claims that Ferguson engaged in the “persistent, outrageous, and violent sexual harassment” of the former employee and calls for a jury trial that seeks “compensation for the extreme emotional distress.” It does not name a dollar figure.
The alleged events occurred in early 2023 in Lyons when Ferguson “began subjecting (the woman) to a continuous barrage of unwanted sexual advances and innuendo,” the legal filing states. Alleged instances of verbal abuse include repeated comments about genitalia and intercourse; urging her to send nude videos of herself to Ferguson; comparing her to a dog and talking about animal intercourse; calling her a “sorceress” and inviting her to become his “queen”; and criticizing her for not traveling with him, according to the lawsuit.
Ferguson also physically grabbed her at various times, the lawsuit alleges, “to kiss her and (stare) into her eyes while asking how she felt about him …” as well as “walking up behind her and massaging her shoulders while she was working.”
Zach Tucker, the human resources manager for Planet Bluegrass, ignored the woman’s concerns when she took them to him, the lawsuit further alleges, after which Tucker “dismissed her complaint and took no remedial action.” Eleven days after the HR complaint, Kidd alleged that Ferguson stormed into the woman’s on-site residence and angrily fired her.
The filing goes on to claim that Ferguson also threw a rock and bowling ball through her window, kicked her out of her on-site residence with no replacement lodging, and threatened to call her abusive boyfriend. Ferguson’s lawyer Banashek said that residence was the Ferguson family home.
“I also can confirm that Miss Kidd was a caretaker of the Ferguson family home during a tragic time, following the immeasurable loss of Mr. Ferguson’s son last year,” he wrote via email.
Ferguson’s son, professional firefighter Griffin Charles Ferguson, died on May 26, 2022, in Lyons in a motorcycle accident, according to an obituary in the Longmont Times-Call.
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