Safelite, Byrd, Respond to Amended Complaint in Sexual Harassment Case; Deny Latest Allegations
June 7, 2011
Safelite Glass and an employee named in a sexual harassment suit against the company have responded to the amended complaint filed against them in a federal North Carolina court in March. In the response, the company and Gregory Byrd of the company's Enfield, N.C., manufacturing facility, deny the allegations made against them by former Enfield employee Lee Laraviere-Steele and her husband, Darrell Steele. The company and Byrd also offer several affirmative defenses against the plaintiffs’ claims.
The most recent allegations in the case include sexual harassment, retaliatory discharge, wrongful discharge, negligent infliction of emotional distress, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and loss of consortium.
Laraviere-Steele 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.
While the company admits that Laraviere-Steele, who worked in human resources at the company’s Enfield facility and reported to Byrd, was released from her job in March 2008, the company denies the allegations that her employment was terminated “in retaliation for complaining about her [alleged] sexually hostile work environment.” The company and Byrd also deny claims that Laraviere-Steele was “subject[ed] to a sexually hostile work environment because of her sex …,” among the other allegations in the case.
Safelite and Byrd also allege that the plaintiffs’ claims are barred “because all decisions and actions toward Laraviere-Steele were taken in good faith and for legitimate, non-retaliatory, non-discriminatory reasons,” and that she “failed to advise [Safelite and Byrd] of any claims of a hostile work environment or sexual discrimination … ”
“ … [Laraviere-Steele] failed to pursue internal procedures to remedy any such complaints or problems,” write the defendants. “Had [she] utilized these procedures, some or all of the harm allegedly suffered would have been prevented.”
Safelite and Byrd are represented by Murchison, Taylor and Gibson PLLC of Wilmington, N.C., and Vorys, Sater, Seymour and Pease LLP of Columbus, Ohio.
A trial in the case has been scheduled tentatively for February 2012 in Wilmington, N.C.
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