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DILAURENZIO v. ATLANTIC PARATRANS

May 29, 1996

ANNA DILAURENZIO, Plaintiff, against ATLANTIC PARATRANS, INC., Defendant.


The opinion of the court was delivered by: GLEESON

 JOHN GLEESON, United States District Judge:

 Plaintiff, Anna DiLaurenzio, brings this sex discrimination claim pursuant to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e, et seq., against her former employer, Atlantic Paratrans ("Atlantic"). DiLaurenzio claims that she was the victim of a hostile work environment and that Atlantic, as her employer, is liable to her for that environment because it hired and condoned the conduct of DiLaurenzio's supervisor, Eric Dove, who used his authority to further this hostile work environment. Atlantic has moved for summary judgment. For the reasons stated herein, this motion is denied.

 FACTS

 In March 1992, Anna DiLaurenzio began working as a scheduling clerk for Atlantic, which provides transportation services to disabled customers. Her immediate supervisor was Eric Dove, who had interviewed and hired her for this position. Dove, the supervisor of ten to fifteen such clerks, oversaw the daily activities of these employees, determined their work schedules, hired new clerks and fired those who were not performing satisfactorily, and decided whether a clerk was entitled to a raise in pay.

 DiLaurenzio alleges that shortly after she began working for Atlantic, Dove started verbally and physically harassing her. She alleges that this harassment occurred several times per week from about March 1992 to May 1993, when she left Atlantic. DiLaurenzio claims that Dove held conversations with other employees two or three times per day in the office about sex and sexually suggestive topics, and that Dove made statements in the course of these conversations that were directed at her. For example, she claims that in the context of one such conversation, Dove stated that when [he] was done getting off of [DiLaurenzio, she was] going to be hitting the ceiling," which DiLaurenzio understood to mean that she would enjoy having sex with him. In addition, DiLaurenzio alleges that Dove told her that he had never been with a white woman and that he would love to have sex with a white women. When DiLaurenzio expressed her lack of interest in having sex with him, he told her that "once [she got] a black guy, [she would] never go back to a white guy."

 DiLaurenzio also claims that, in response to another employee's announcement that she was engaged, Dove said that "before her wedding he should give her a good screw." Towana Taylor, a co-worker of DiLaurenzio, stated in her deposition that Dove said, with regard to the engaged woman, that he could have had the engaged woman before her fiance did. Dove allegedly also bragged of having sexual relations with female employees of Atlantic, made a grinding gesture with his pelvis behind one female employee, and asked an employee what her favorite sexual position was. Finally, DiLaurenzio asserts that Dove openly compared female employees' breast sizes, and concluded in her presence that she had a big chest.

 DiLaurenzio claims that Dove also subjected her and other employees to physical harassment by touching her and others in a sexually suggestive manner in the office while they were working. She alleges that Dove tried several times to grab and fondle other employees' breasts and that he put his arm around her two to three times per week. When Dove put his arm around her, DiLaurenzio claims that she always asked him to "take his hands off of her." DiLaurenzio alleges that there were times when Dove put his arms around her and did not let her go for up to one minute; he would squeeze her so tightly that she could not immediately break free. When DiLaurenzio did break free, much of the time she would go outside and smoke cigarettes, until "she felt it was all right to go back in [when Dove] would not be around [her work area]."

 DiLaurenzio further claims that on several occasions when she was seated at her computer terminal, Dove put his arm around her and massaged her shoulders. DiLaurenzio asserts that she always asked him to stop and sometimes she would have to ask as many as four times before he stopped. A co-worker, Miguelina Fanas, corroborates DiLaurenzio's allegation; stating that three to ten times per week, Dove held DiLaurenzio, and although DiLaurenzio asked to be let go, Dove refused until "he felt like letting go, then he let her go." Dove admits in his deposition that he put his arm around DiLaurenzio while she was working. DiLaurenzio claims that on occasion Dove would come up from behind her and touch his chest to the back of DiLaurenzio. DiLaurenzio stated that this conduct was not accidental, that Dove did it to "the other girls" as well. Moreover, she alleges that Dove kissed female employees on the lips.

 While DiLaurenzio never explicitly claims that Dove punished her for rebuffing his advances, she does allege that Dove treated her differently than he treated his other subordinates. She claims that while other employees were given a weekend day off after one year, DiLaurenzio was not granted her weekend day off until later. She also claims that Dove yelled at her for not completing work, reprimanded her for taking time off that he had previously approved, and that he had numerous harassing phone calls made to her home to make sure that she was actually at home on days when she called in sick. DiLaurenzio claims that Dove's abusive treatment of her began around the same time that she rebuffed his touching, holding, and squeezing of her body while she was at work.

 DiLaurenzio claims that she conferred with her co-workers about reporting Dove's conduct to his superiors. However, they were afraid and jointly concluded that there was a risk of losing their jobs if they did.

 Finally, DiLaurenzio claims (and submits corroborating deposition testimony from a co-worker) that Dove scared his subordinates into believing that they could not bring a sexual harassment suit against him. Shortly after the highly-publicized confirmation hearings of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, in a conversation about sexual harassment, Dove stated to DiLaurenzio and the other clerks that if any of his employees ever sued him for sexual harassment, "he was going to chew [their] asses off in court." In the course of such conversations, Dove implied that any employees who reported his conduct would lose their jobs by stating, "this is the only job you (sic) ever have, you can't do nothing else out there." He told these employees that "whatever happens here, if I do any touching, it's friendship, it's not sexual harassment . . . . He went up one by one to each girl and said, 'Did I ever sexually harass you?'"

 DISCUSSION

 Atlantic denies DiLaurenzio's allegations and argues that it is entitled to summary judgment because there is no genuine issue of material fact as to whether Dove subjected DiLaurenzio to treatment which constitutes sexual harassment under Title VII, and that even if he did, it would be ...


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