(PRWEB) December 19, 2004
Home Depot USA, Inc., and area supervisors face allegations of sex discrimination, sexual harassment, and requiring employees to work off the clock.
Three women formerly employed at a Vancouver Home Depot Store have joined together to sue Home Depot and five of its supervisory and management personnel for sexual harassment, sex discrimination and unlawful wage and hour practices. The suit was filed Friday morning in Clark County Superior Court on behalf of Judy Newton, Amy Musgrave, and Charisse Vigneau (case #04-2-06585-6). The suit claims discrimination based primarily upon offensive and sexually explicit comments and conduct by male co-workers that when reported to Home Depot Management and Human Resources, went unaddressed.
The lawsuit alleges that the women experienced:
Â. . . aggressive verbal and physical harassment and sexual horseplay from male employees that included but was not limited to, forcible hand to genital contact, coercive verbal and physical attempts at oral sex, threats of sexual assault, open display and distribution of pornographic materials, repeated reference and discussions by male employees of sexual positions, penises and penis size, solicitation of sex for money, and retaliation.Â
The plaintiffsÂ counsel comprised of Vancouver attorneys, Greg Ferguson, and Scott Deutsch, from the Law Offices of Gregory D. Ferguson, PC associating with attorney, Claudia Haywood, have requested that a judge order Âdeclaratory or injunctive relief in order to restrain Defendants continuing unlawful employment practicesÂ and for permission to add additional female workers to the suit by procedurally joining them in the case or through a class action certification process. Although the complaint does not specify their damages in a dollar figure, the plaintiffs are seeking lost wages, past and future, damages for humiliation and emotional distress, double damages and attorney fees.
The plaintiffs, formerly employed at the Vancouver, Washington store No. 4718, contend that when they reported their concerns to management, they were told that it was their word against the word of the men involved and that unless they had more evidence nothing could be done about it. On one occasion, a male co-worker handed Ms. Newton a CD/DVD that allegedly contained graphic pornographic images. When she turned it over to Human Resources she was told that she still didnÂt have enough evidence. Ms. Newton eventually left employment when her mental and physical condition began to deteriorate in the face of what she and her co-litigants contend was continuous sexual harassment and retaliation.
After Judy Newton lodged a complaint with the Washington Human Rights Commission, Home DepotÂs Seattle attorneys intervened and began questioning employees, including Ms. Musgrave, who testified that she had she had experienced the same behaviors and had witnessed the sexual harassment of Judy Newton. Shortly after standing up for and supporting Ms. Newton, Home DepotÂs management fired Amy Musgrave. Home Depot cited Âdeclining performanceÂ as the reason for her termination despite her having received above average performance reviews. Charisse Vigneau eventually transferred to a Home Depot store in Hawaii.
In addition to the sexual harassment, the women contend that they and others were periodically forced to work off the clock without pay, and were subjected to employee Âlock-insÂ where management actually locked them in the store after hours forcing them to work off the clock until their work was completed.
Lead counsel in the case attorney Greg Ferguson explained, ÂThe discrimination suit has been brought under the authority of WashingtonÂs Law Against Discrimination that permits employees to act as private attorneys general to support their rights and the rights of others to work in an environment free from discrimination and intimidation.Â Ferguson stated that, Âthis case is intended to hold accountable a very large corporation that has very little interest in recognizing its legal responsibility to affirmatively address systemic sexual harassment within its ranks. The extreme level to which this conduct was permitted to escalate and ferment virtually unchecked by management is quite telling as to the permissive culture that prevails at Home Depot.Â
For additional information, please contact us by telephone at 360-906-1167, by fax at 360-695-5800 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. A conformed copy of the complaint is on file at Clark County Superior Court (http://www.courts.wa.gov), Judge Woolard, Department 8, filed as case #04-2-06585-6.
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