EEOC 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:
This was not the first complaint that Frogale had received that the Manager engaged in sexual harassment. However, in the first woman’s sworn Charge filed with the EEOC, she explains that the harassment became worse after she reported it to Human Resources.
Frogale Recruits a High School Teen to Work for the Manager
Just before the first woman’s complaint, Frogale hired an 18-year old out of high school (the “Teen”), to report to the Manager. This was her first job. As she explained in a sworn statement:
Whenever I had a question, [the Manager] would come into the conference room, shut the door, kneel or crouch by the chair that I was sitting in, and proceed to put his hand on the inside of my thigh, in between my legs. . . .
This started immediately upon the first day of my training, and occurred every time I had a question, which was several times a day, every day. After the first several times he did this, it occurred to me that he was taking advantage of me, my young age, and my being alone in the conference room. . . . This training lasted over a month.
Following her training:
He would find a way to rub his fingers through my hair, while telling me that he found my hair beautiful. The physical touching was daily. I . . . was humiliated. Others noticed it, too. . . . He would tell me things like . . , “I bet you look so good in a bikini.” . . . [The Manager] sent me text messages with pictures of himself at the gym with his shirt off. He also offered to take me on vacations with him to Mexico and Florida.
The Teen explained that:
[The Manager] would come up behind [the first woman] when she was at her desk and rub her shoulders in an inappropriate manner. She would physically tense up when he did this. . . [E]arly on in my employment there [the first woman] told me that she had just reported [the Manager] to HR. She said that she gave HR our names, too, indicating to HR that [the Manager] harassed other females at the office.
The Teen noted that despite the complaint:
There was no sign that HR or any other management at the company did anything to counsel or reprimand him. With no check on his sexual harassment, it became clear that [the Manager] felt emboldened.
At some point his daily touching progressed to a full-hand slap on my behind, while saying, “You look so great. Everything is so tight and toned.” . . . At that point, after enduring his physical harassment so long in an effort to keep my job, I could take it no longer. I told [the first woman] that I was going to complain to him directly, knowing that HR did nothing in response to [her] complaint about the sexual harassment.
On April 28, 2022, more than a year after the first woman reported the Manager to Laurie Frogale, with no change in his behavior, the Teen exchanged these messages with the first woman (names are redacted):
As the Teen explained in her sworn statement:
I texted [The Manager] that evening to tell him that . . . “I really don’t appreciate how you made me feel today, it made me feel very uncomfortable and I’d appreciate if that doesn’t ever happen again.” He immediately called me and tried to defend himself while half- apologizing, saying, “I look at you like a daughter.” The next day he called me into his office. I recorded the conversation knowing that he was going to bring up my complaint to him.
The following are excerpts from the recorded conversation:
The Manager (01:44): But I never talk- I never think of it in, like, I don’t know. I think I thought of you too much like, friend and not worker, you know what I mean?
I think I thought of you too much like, friend and not worker . . . I took it too far. . . Sorry . . . . (01:56) Like, and that’s just something I would do. I didn’t even think about it. . . .. I took it too far . . . . Sometimes I try to make people, um …
The Teen (02:12): I just wanted to let you know. . . I figured best way to handle it was just to tell you straight up, so that’s why I did. . . . That’s all.
Even after she explained to her boss how he made her feel uncomfortable touching her–not an easy thing for a teen to do–he could not resist pawing her on the way out:
The Manager (02:59): This is just a hug.
The Teen (02:59): I’m not’ I’m not being weird about . . .
The Manager (02:59): Good.
The first woman suffered continued, escalating sexual harassment and retaliation, until she was fired by her Manager and Laurie Frogale. After five years she was told she was being fired because nobody wanted to work with her. Her firing came directly after her attorneys called Elizabeth Foster, who had resigned from Annandale, for information related to the EEOC Charges. After they fired the first woman, in an ugly scene, Laurie Frogale goaded her and threatened her with arrest, as she tried to take her personal belongings home. The second woman could no longer bear the constant sexual harassment, and witnessing Frogale’s treatment of the first woman after she had fired her, so she quit. As did the Teen, who was sickened by Annandale and her Manager.
In August WHSV3 did an on-air segment about the claims against Annandale and a print story making clear the women had filed with the EEOC. Both women are awaiting permission from the EEOC to bring suit. The Manager is still working at Annandale supervising young women.
The next installment in this series of blog pieces will discuss Annandale’s response to the WHSV3 piece, an outpouring of former Annandale employees who have provided sworn statements that they reported sexual harassment to Laurie Frogale and her response, or lack thereof.