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 workplace ethics."

Safelite has denied the allegations made against the company itself in the original EEOC suit.

A trial in the case is tentatively scheduled for February 2012 in Wilmington, N.C.

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