Former Safelite Employee and Spouse File Motion to Intervene in EEOC Sexual Harassment Suit; Tentative Trial Date Scheduled for February 2012
January 19, 2011
Former Safelite employee Lee Laraviere-Steele, who was named in
the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s (EEOC)
sexual harassment complaint against Safelite, and her husband, Darrell
Steele, have filed a motion to intervene in the suit. The original
complaint was filed by the EEOC last August. In the complaint, the
EEOC charged Safelite with subjecting Laraviere-Steele to a hostile
work environment because of her sex and discharging her in retaliation
for complaining about the sexually hostile work environment, according
to court documents.
In the motion
to intervene, which, if accepted, would add Laraviere-Steele
and Steele as named plaintiffs in the case, the Steeles name Gregory
Byrd of Safelite also as a potential defendant. Information provided
to AGRR magazine during a June
2009 tour of the company's Enfield, N.C., facility listed
Byrd as regional associate services manager at the location as of
The Steeles are seeking a jury trial in the case and allege that
“Safelite and Byrd discriminated against Laraviere-Steele
by subjecting her to a sexually hostile work environment because
of her sex, and by discharging Laraviere-Steele in retaliation for
complaining about her sexually hostile work environment ...,”
according to the motion, filed on January 12.
The recent motion catalogs many of the same claims made in the original
suit. Laraviere-Steele is alleging that Byrd “ask[ed
her] the color and type of her undergarments,” “compliment[ed]
her on her breasts,” and that he “attempted to kiss
[her] inside the office copy room.”
Laraviere-Steele alleges that she complained to operations manager
Tony Roach on March 3, 2008, and on the following day, was told
by Byrd that “he was disappointed [she] had spoken with the
operations manager regarding his conduct.” She goes on to
claim that on March 6, Byrd terminated her employment.
“Throughout these incidents, Byrd was acting within the scope
of his employment, within the scope of his authority, and Byrd’s
actions were authorized or ratified by the conduct of Safelite;
therefore, Safelite is vicariously liable for Byrd’s actions
in accordance with the doctrine of respondeat superior,” write
Laraviere-Steele and Steele.
Both the Steeles are seeking compensatory and punitive damages.
Among the details of the complaint, Darrell Steele claims he has
suffered “loss of consortium” as a result of the alleged
actions of the company and Byrd, as “he suffers from several
health issues and has been primarily dependent upon Laraviere-Steele’s
income, and benefits, for his maintenance and support,” according
to the text of the motion.
The Steeles are represented by the law firm of Batts, Batts &
Bell LLP in Rocky Mount, N.C.
Safelite has denied
the allegations made in the original EEOC suit. At press
time, the court had not yet ruled on the motion to intervene.
order also has been issued in the case, setting a tentative
trial date of February 2012 in Wilmington, N.C.
Safelite issued the following statement to glassBYTEs.com/AGRR
magazine regarding the latest on the case.
"While we cannot generally comment on legal or HR matters,
we are vehemently defending Byrd, who is still employed by Safelite,
in this suit," says company spokesperson Melina Metzger. "These
accusations are not taken lightly; we have a firm commitment to
the law and workplace ethics."
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