The Florida Commission on Human Relations, Sexual Harassment and a Hostile Work Environment, Reataliation Federal/State Claim, violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

The Florida Commission on Human Relations, Sexual Harassment and a Hostile Work Environment, Reataliation Federal/State Claim, violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Sexual harassmentIN THE CIRCUIT COURT OF THE
EIGHTEENTH JUDICIAL CIRCUIT
IN AND FOR BREVARD COUNTY,
FLORIDA

HELEN ROLLINGS SOWLE, Case No.:

Plaintiff,

vs.

MAXIM RETAIL STORES, INC.,

Defendant.

____________________________/

COMPLAINT AND DEMAND FOR JURY TRIAL

JURISDICTION AND VENUE

Plaintiff, HELEN ROLLINGS SOWLE, by and through her undersigned counsel, sues Defendant, MAXIM RETAIL STORES, INC., hereinafter referred to as “Defendant”, and alleges as follows:
1. This is an action for damages that exceed $15,000.00, exclusive of costs, interest, and attorney’s fees.
2. The unlawful employment practices alleged below were committed within Brevard County, Florida.

PARTIES
3. Plaintiff is a female who resides in Brevard County, Florida, and has at all times material herein resided in Brevard County, Florida.
4. Defendant, Maxim Retail Stores, Inc., is a Georgia corporation, at all times material herein registered and doing business in the State of Florida and an “employer” under Chapter 760.11, Florida Statutes and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, 42 U.S.C. Section 2000e et seq.

STATEMENT OF CLAIM
5. Plaintiff has retained the undersigned attorney and agreed to pay him a reasonable fee.
6. Plaintiff has exhausted her administrative remedies prior to bringing this action.
7. Plaintiff has complied with all conditions precedent prior to bringing this action.
8. Plaintiff was employed as an Office Manager by Defendant at its Melbourne, Florida location New York Carpet World store from approximately February 1993 until February 1999. Plaintiff received notice of her termination on or about February 11, 1999.

COUNT I
SEXUAL HARASSMENT AND HOSTILE WORK ENVIRONMENT
STATE CLAIM

9. Plaintiff realleges and incorporates paragraphs 1 through 8 of this Complaint as if set forth in full herein.
10. This action is brought pursuant to Section 760.10, Florida Statutes.
11. Plaintiff filed a claim regarding the conduct which is the subject of this Complaint with the Florida Commission on Human Relations. The Florida Commission on Human Relations has failed to take final action on Plaintiff’s complaint, and more than one hundred eighty (180) days have passed since the filing of said complaint. A copy of said complaint is attached as Exhibit “A.”
12. During the course of her employment with Defendant, Plaintiff, a female, was subjected to sexual harassment and a hostile work environment by her supervisors and co-workers, including management level employees of Defendant.
13. The sexual harassment of Plaintiff by Defendant’s management employees, consisted of, but was not limited to:
a. Coercion by Defendant’s District Manager forcing Plaintiff to engage in a sexual relationship, including sexual demands made on Plaintiff in order that Plaintiff could keep her job and receive raises, as well as his suggestions to Plaintiff that no one else could promote her or give her a raise.
b. Threats by Defendant’s District Manager that if Plaintiff reported his actions to Defendant’s Regional Vice President, it would “be bad” for her.
c. Crude, sexually suggestive remarks and signs concerning Plaintiff, made by Plaintiff’s supervisors and co-workers. One co-worker fashioned a sign which he displayed to the other employees in the store, which read, “She is a bitch. Nothing but a bitch!! Pay no attention to her. With luck, one day a truck will run over her!” When Plaintiff complained to the store’s Assistant Manager about the sign, his only remark was, “Phil is real good with signs”.
d. The statement, by the Assistant Manager of Defendant’s store where Plaintiff was employed, that she should “spread her legs” for him, as well as his repeated lewd, suggestive, inappropriate and offensive comments concerning Plaintiff’s sex life.
14. The hostile work environment created by Defendant’s management employees, consisted of, but was not limited to:
a. Awareness of and refusal to take corrective action in regard to crude, sexually suggestive remarks and signs concerning Plaintiff, made by Plaintiff’s supervisors and co-workers.
b. The false representation that corrective action had been taken, in regard to these matters, in an effort to secure Plaintiff’s return to work.
15. Plaintiff complained of the sexual harassment by Defendant’s employees to various members of Defendant’s management structure, including the District Manager and Regional Human Resources Manager.
16. Defendant, thus apprised of the sexual harassment of Plaintiff by her supervisors and co-workers, failed to take remedial action to correct the problem.
17. Plaintiff did not encourage, welcome or consent to the sexual harassment described in paragraph 13.
18. As a direct result of the sexual harassment suffered by Plaintiff as described herein, Plaintiff was unable to return to work because Defendant failed to take remedial action in regard to the perpetrators of the sexual harassment, as identified to Defendant by Plaintiff.
19. As a further result of the sexual harassment suffered by Plaintiff as described herein, and because of the hostile work environment created by Defendant when Plaintiff tried to address her concerns with Defendant’s management, Plaintiff has suffered mental anxiety, emotional distress and humiliation, by virtue of the offensive, degrading and improper conduct to which she was subjected by Defendant.

PRAYER FOR RELIEF

WHEREFORE, Plaintiff prays for judgment against Defendants, for all damages to which she may be entitled, including, without limitation:
A. Back pay
B. Front pay
C. Damages for mental anguish
D. Damages for loss of dignity
E. Punitive damages
F. Reasonable attorney fees and costs of this action

COUNT II
RETALIATION -STATE CLAIM
20. Plaintiff realleges and incorporates paragraphs 1 through 8, and 11 through 19 of this Complaint as if set forth in full herein.
21. This action is brought pursuant to Section 760.10, Florida Statutes.
22. After complaining to Defendant’s management about the sexual harassment to which she had been subjected, Plaintiff was retaliated against by Defendant. The retaliation consisted of, but was not limited to:
a. The continuation of the sexual harassment against Plaintiff, including crude and sexually offensive remarks concerning Plaintiff made by co-workers and supervisors.
b. Refusals by supervisors and co-workers to speak to Plaintiff or include her in office business meetings.
c. The denial of Plaintiff’s request for vacation by Defendant’s Store Manager.
d. Suspension of the Plaintiff from her job.
e. The false representation that corrective action had been taken, in regard to these matters, in an effort to secure Plaintiff’s return to work.
f. The termination of Plaintiff’s employment.
g. Adverse employment recommendations given by Defendant’s Store Manager and Assistant Manager in response to potential employers of Plaintiff.

23. After complaining of the sexual harassment to which she had been subjected by Defendant, Plaintiff was notified by Defendant that she was being suspended from her employment “until the situation (was) resolved”. On or about January 7, 1999, Defendant falsely represented to Plaintiff that it made certain personnel transfers and scheduled a “RESPECT” program for staff at the Melbourne store to remedy the situation, in regard to Plaintiff’s complaints, and notified her that if she did not report to work by January 11, 1999, she would be considered to have “voluntarily resigned”.
24. Upon Plaintiff’s attempted return to work following this notice, she discovered that the personnel transfers had not taken place. Fearing continued harassment and retaliation from those supervisors and employees she had complained of, Plaintiff was unable to return to work as she had anticipated. Therefore, she did not return to work. Plaintiff contacted the District Manager and explained why she was not returning to work. The District Manager told her he would discuss the situation with Defendant’s Regional Human Resources Manager.
25. On or about January 27, 1999, Plaintiff met with Defendant’s Human Resources Manager and discussed the matter, once again reiterating to her the harassment to which she had been subjected, and why she could not return to work with the perpetrators of said harassment.
26. On or about February 11, 1999, Plaintiff was informed by Defendant’s Regional Human Resources Manager that she had in fact been terminated.
27. Plaintiff was terminated because she had reported and opposed sexual harassment perpetrated against her by Defendant’s management and fellow employees.
28. The acts alleged in this Complaint constitute a violation of Section 760.10(7), Florida Statutes, which states that “[I]t is an unlawful employment practice for an employer…to discriminate against any person because that person has opposed any practice which is an unlawful employment practice under this section, or because that person has made a charge, testified, assisted in any manner in an investigation, proceeding, or hearing under this section.”
29. As a further result of the sexual harassment suffered by Plaintiff as described herein, and because of the hostile work environment created by Defendant when Plaintiff tried to address her concerns with Defendant’s management, Plaintiff has suffered mental anxiety, emotional distress and humiliation, by virtue of the offensive, degrading and improper conduct to which she was subjected by Defendant.

PRAYER FOR RELIEF
WHEREFORE, Plaintiff prays for judgment against Defendants, for all damages to which she may be entitled, including, without limitation:
A. Back pay
B. Front pay
C. Damages for mental anguish
F. Damages for loss of dignity
G. Punitive damages
F. Reasonable attorney fees and costs of this action

COUNT III
SEXUAL HARASSMENT AND HOSTILE WORK ENVIRONMENT
FEDERAL CLAIM
30. Plaintiff realleges and incorporates paragraphs 1 through 8 and 12 through 19 of this Complaint as if set forth in full herein.
31. This action is brought pursuant to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, 42 U.S.C. Section 2000e-2.
32. The actions described in this Complaint constitute a violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, 42 U.S.C. Section 2000e-2, regarding unlawful employment practices.
33. Plaintiff filed a claim regarding the conduct which is the subject of this Complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and more than one hundred eighty (180) days have passed since the filing of said complaint. A copy of said complaint is attached as Exhibit “B.” Plaintiff received a Right To Sue Notice from the EEOC, a copy of which is attached as Exhibit “C”.

PRAYER FOR RELIEF
WHEREFORE, Plaintiff prays for judgment against Defendants, for all damages to which she may be entitled, including, without limitation:
A. Back pay
B. Front pay
C. Damages for mental anguish
D. Damages for loss of dignity
E. Punitive damages
F. Reasonable attorney fees and costs of this action

COUNT IV
RETALIATION – FEDERAL CLAIM
34. Plaintiff realleges and incorporates paragraphs 1 through 8, 12 through 19 and 22 through 29 of this Complaint as if set forth in full herein.
35. This action is brought pursuant to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, 42 U.S.C. Section 2000e-3.
36. The actions described in this Complaint constitute a violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, 42 U.S.C. Section 2000e-3, regarding “other” unlawful employment practices.

PRAYER FOR RELIEF
WHEREFORE, Plaintiff prays for judgment against Defendants, for all damages to which she may be entitled, including, without limitation:
A. Back pay
B. Front pay
C. Damages for mental anguish
D. Damages for loss of dignity
D. Punitive damages
E. Reasonable attorney fees and costs of this action.
DEMAND FOR JURY TRIAL
Plaintiff demands a jury trial on all issues herein triable by jury.
DATED this _____day of June, 2000.

_____________________________
Wayne L. Allen, Esquire
Florida Bar No. 110025
R. Brent Blackburn, Esquire
Florida Bar No. 093270
Adrienne E. Trent, Esquire
Florida Bar No. 0060119
WAYNE L. ALLEN & ASSOCIATES, P.A.
Attorneys for Plaintiff
700 N. Wickham Road
Suite 107
Melbourne, Florida 32935
Phone: (321) 254-7550
Fax: (321) 242-1681

More Information: For more information, please see our sexual harassment page
Attorney: Maurice Arcadier
Status: Closed
Date Filed: 06/15/2000

Our Melbourne office is centrally located in Brevard County, enabling our lawyers to serve clients throughout “the Space Coast”, including Cocoa Beach, Palm Bay and Vero Beach.