Former Safelite Employee and Her Spouse File
Official Amended Complaint Against Company, Former Supervisor, Alleging
Sexual Harassment, Among Other Charges
March 29, 2011
Former Safelite employee Lee Laraviere-Steele and her husband,
Darrell Steele, have filed their own amended
complaint against the company and Lee Laraviere-Steele's former
supervisor, Gregory Byrd, at Safelite's Enfield, N.C., facility.
In the complaint, filed as a result of the court's
recent decision to allow them to intervene as plaintiffs in
a 2010 suit originally filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity
Commission (EEOC), the two charge the company and Byrd with sexual
harassment, retaliatory discharge, wrongful discharge, negligent
infliction of emotional distress, intentional infliction of emotional
distress, and loss of consortium.
With the filing of the complaint, Byrd also now has been named
an official defendant, and, according to court documents, a summons
was sent to him on March 17.In the March 17 complaint, Laraviere-Steele,
who worked in human resources at the Enfield location from January
2007 through March 2008, alleges that "Safelite and Byrd discriminated
against [her] by subjecting her to a sexually hostile work environment
because of her sex, and by discharging [her] in retaliation for
complaining about her sexually hostile work environment."
She also claims that the company and Byrd "intentionally and/or
negligently inflicted emotional distress upon Laraviere-Steele throughout
the foregoing acts."
Steele claims he suffered "loss of consortium" as a result
of the alleged events.
Laraviere-Steele lists a number of specific allegations toward
Byrd, including "sexually inappropriate touching," and
inappropriate comments she claims were made to her.
"Laraviere-Steele verbally or physically objected to Byrd's
actions or comments identified above, at which time Byrd would apologize
for his actions," reads the complaint. "However, Byrd
continued to resume his inappropriate actions."
The complaint further alleges that "Byrd's actions were authorized
or ratified by the conduct of Safelite."
In addition to the charges of sexual harassment, Laraviere-Steele
also alleges that she "suffered an adverse employment action
as a direct result of her complaining of Byrd's sexual harassment
in that she was terminated by Safelite."
She goes on allege that both the company and Byrd caused her negligent
and intentional emotional distress. "Byrd and Safelite engaged
in extreme and outrageous conduct
" alleges the complaint.
"Byrd and Safelite engaged in this conduct with the intent
to cause harm or in reckless disgregard of the probability of causing
Laraviere-Steele to suffer emotional distress."
Laraviere-Steele and Steele are seeking compensatory and punitive
damages, attorneys' fees, and pre- and post-judgment interest. They
are seeking a trial by jury.
Laraviere-Steele and Steele are represented by Joseph Bell and
Michael Smith of Batts, Batts and Bell LLP.
Byrd could not be reached for comment at press time. Safelite officials
had not responded to requests for an update on the case at press
time, but advised earlier this year that they intend to defend Byrd.
"While we cannot generally comment on legal or HR matters,
we are vehemently defending Byrd, who is still employed by Safelite,
in this suit," said company spokesperson Melina Metzger shortly
after the original motion to intervene was filed. "These accusations
are not taken lightly; we have a firm commitment to the law and
Safelite has denied
the allegations made against the company itself in the original
A trial in the case is tentatively scheduled for February 2012
in Wilmington, N.C.
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