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LOGO-292x300The EEOC requires that the employer file an Opposition Statement. Annandale did so. It included statements that are false. Knowingly submitting a false statement would be plainly intended to mislead a federal agency’s investigation.

In opposition to the Charge that the Design Manager engaged in physical and verbal sexual harassment of the Charging Parties, Annandale relies on the sworn Declaration of a current employee (“Declarant”), who, under oath, states, “I have never felt uncomfortable working with [Design Manager]”—referring to the design manager at issue in the Charges filed with the EEOC.

She also states—under oath, referring to one former employee witness (“Former Employee”)—as follows: “I worked with [Former Employee]. [She] [n]ever told me that [the Design Manager] had touched [her] inappropriately or otherwise made [her] feel uncomfortable.”

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This is the third in a series of blog pieces written for and reviewed by the Charging Parties which explains their ordeal 

The CEO, the Head of Human Resources and the Therapy Team Leader Threaten to Fire Women who Complain about Sexual Harassment at Encompass, a Major Hospital Chain 

 
The CEO and the Director of Human Resources at Colorado Springs were required to report to Headquarters that they were receiving numerous complaints of sexual harassment perpetrated by the same provider who had been the subject of the sexual assault allegation. 

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Since a story aired in on WHSV3 in August regarding sexual harassment Charges filed with the EEOC by two former employees against Annandale Millwork and Allied Systems for ignoring complaints of sexual harassment by the “Design Manager” (referred to as the “Manager” in first blog post), four former employees of Annandale, have come forward with allegations based on what they witnessed working at Annandale. The allegations included an account of racial discrimination by Laurie Frogale, who ran Human Resources, and a situation where she observed one of her managers using racial slurs, with a person of color present, but said nothing to the harasser. The allegations, made under oath, include that a complaint was made to Frogale of sexual harassment by the Design Manager before the two women who filed Charges with the EEOC worked at Annandale and complaints about sexual harassment by other managers, which Laurie Frogale either ignored or condoned. The women who have come forward have provided sworn declarations alleging sexual harassment and disregard for their civil rights. Excerpts are repeated below.

The first Declarant stated under oath that she is African American and that when she was hired in September 2016 she had straight hair. In her sworn declaration she states that:

6.  However, around three months after I was hired, I decided to have my hair out in an afro. When Laurie noticed my hair that day, she approached me with a look of disgust and said, “What is this? This is not who I hired.”

LOGO-292x300EEOC Charges of Sexual Harassment Have Been Filed Against Annandale Millwork and Allied Systems Corp. Alleging Complaints were Ignored for Years

This is the first installment in a series of posts about two women who worked at Annandale Millwork and Allied Systems Corp., in Winchester, Virginia, who filed EEOC Charges alleging they were subjected to physical and verbal sexual harassment by their male Manager despite a previous complaint two years earlier by one of the women. On April 16, 2021, one woman complained to Human Resources employee Elizabeth Foster that the Manager was sexually harassing her, a second woman who filed a Charge with the EEOC, and other women.

Elizabeth texted the first woman that she had informed Laurie Frogale, Head of Human Resources. (In addition to being the Head of Annandale Human Resources, Laurie Frogale is one of the owners of Annandale.) Elizabeth texted the first woman that:

SCA Pharmaceuticals has filed a motion to compel arbitration in Plaintiff H. Dragon’s sexual harassment and retaliation case—and while the motion fails for several other reasons, this case is among the first to present an interesting legal question about the applicability of the Ending Forced Arbitration Act in sexual harassment cases. 

In its motion, SCA claims that Plaintiff Dragon signed an acknowledgement that he had received the company’s employee handbook, and that the handbook contained language requiring that employment disputes be arbitrated. Plaintiff opposed the motion, pointing out the obvious: the handbook and acknowledgement explicitly disclaimed creating contractual obligations “of any type”—meaning that by SCA’s own choice, no agreement to arbitrate could have been created. Plaintiff also pointed out that any agreement to arbitrate based on those documents would have been illusory, if it had actually existed, since the acknowledgement retains SCA’s authority to alter the policies in its handbook—including any purported arbitration agreement—unilaterally at any time. 

But even though these facts are enough to dispose of the motion, the motion also presented a separate and novel legal issue: does The Ending Forced Arbitration Act (“EFAA”) apply to a hostile work environment claim like this one, where the harassment started before the law came into effect, and continued after it was already effective?  

A federal judge in the Western District of Oklahoma has denied Northeastern State University’s motion to dismiss a former employee’s claims of sexual harassment and retaliation under both Title VII and Title IX, after a coworker allegedly put his hands down her pants. 

 Deanie Hensley, the plaintiff in the action, worked for NSU in Tahlequah, Oklahoma for approximately 13 years. She alleged in her First Amended Complaint that multiple supervisors and co-workers engaged in sexually inappropriate behavior over that time, including sharing sexual cartoons and remarking on women’s bodies, but Hensley’s complaints resulted in no changes. After her complaint about a particular supervisor resulted in retaliation including stripping Hensley of job duties, she decided to take a position with a contract company that provided the university’s mail services. The joint employment with NSU and this company allowed her to continue working at NSU and using her expertise and familiarity with the NSU campus and personnel. However, Hensley alleges that one of the coworkers who had a habit of making offensive remarks sought her out on the job, then: “reached across the counter and put his hands down her jeans, with the backs of his hands against her stomach. He reached down to her panty line. He then pulled her belt buckle and shook it, commenting on how she had been ‘losing weight.'”  

 Shaken and traumatized by the assault, Hensley alleges that she complained to NSU campus police. Following even more complaints that the harasser was following Ms. Hensley and approaching near her in violation of a protective order, Hensley alleges in her Complaint that Steven Turner, NSU’s President, threatened the contract company with the loss of its contract if it did not remove Ms. Hensley from the NSU campus. Ms. Hensley alleges the inevitable result of this threat would be that she would lose her job–and that in fact, she did lose her job as a consequence. 

In February 2021, we posted about our clients’ quest for justice in their sexual harassment and retaliation class action against CRST Expedited, Inc.  At the time, we were waiting for a decision from the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals.

A lot has happened since then…

The Court decided Plaintiffs’ appeal in this decision.  While the Court largely upheld dismissal of Plaintiffs’ claims, it also remanded back to the District Court Plaintiffs’ class retaliation claims for women who were removed from their trucks after reporting sexual harassment after July 2015.

Friedman & Houlding LLP represents 21 African-American Plaintiffs in a lawsuit against Newport News Industrials, a subsidiary of Huntington Ingalls, which builds our Carriers and Subs. Some of our clients are veterans.

Plaintiffs are committed to obtaining justice in their long-running lawsuit alleging a racially hostile work environment. Evidence includes nooses at their workstations when they came to work, racist symbols and graffiti displayed openly throughout their workplace, including on t-shirts, headbands, tattoos, toolboxes and in bathrooms, and racial slurs. Plaintiffs testified that they were menaced with nooses, including by a supervisor, were addressed as “boy,” referred to as “n*gger” and were shown a video of white people dancing to Johnny Rebel singing “N*gger Hatin’ Me,” among other racist behavior. And many allege they were treated differently than their white peers when it came to being monitored.  A summary of the conduct the district court found supported Plaintiffs’ right to a jury trial can be found here.

This racism was supported with taxpayer dollars.

A Tennessee woman has filed a Complaint in Davidson County Chancery Court alleging that her employer, Motel 6, did nothing to protect her from harassment based on her HIV positive status–and that she was summarily fired for taking action after the hotel was sold to a franchisee. Friedman & Houlding LLP represents the Plaintiff, Jane Roe, who is proceeding under a pseudonym to protect her personal health information.

Roe worked at a corporate-owned Motel 6 location. When she began taking a medication that could cause dizziness, she informed the two on-site managers about her HIV status so they could take appropriate precautions to protect their own health in the event she fell and was injured on the job.

Roe alleged that one of the managers proceeded to engage in a campaign of harassment based on Roe’s HIV status, including telling numerous coworkers as well as hotel guests that Roe “has AIDS,” telling a pregnant co-worker not to use the employee restroom after Roe, leaving Clorox wipes in the bathroom as a reference to Roe being “unclean,” and mocking Roe by asking about her health, making comments like “you look swollen today, are you sure your health is okay?” Roe alleged that the conduct even escalated to harassing phone calls on the hotel line while Roe was at work.

Friedman & Houlding LLP routinely seeks production of e-mail, texts and video that contain racially and sexually offensive words and images, sent by managers. These are the same managers charged with enforcing the employer’s discrimination and harassment policy. More often than not, we find these same managers are downloading offensive material, and emailing the material to others at the employer. Courts have held this evidence admissible on whether the employer had an effective anti-harassment policy, the bias of those charged with enforcing the alleged anti-discrimination policy, and whether managers were negligent in responding to complaints.
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