Workers decry handling of sexual harassment claim
Alleged sexual harassment and intimidation by a service employee have led a group of co-workers to voice frustration with the Human Resources Department, which they feel has been negligent in following through with promises to resolve the complaints.
The employees have expressed disgust at the actions of the individual to his supervisors.
“You’re at risk every time you’re with him,” one female employee said. “ It’s unbelievable. They don’t want to deal with him.”
She said he often uses highly offensive terms to refer to people. “Myself and all the women in the office are known as the ‘fucking bitches,’” she said.
Workers have compiled dozens of pages of records documenting this employee’s transgressions. These include dropping his pants in front of a secretary to show a tattoo on his backside, talking about his “nine inch cock,” using racial slurs to describe coworkers and making threatening slicing motions across his throat.
The employee denied the accusations, blaming them on an exclusive “clique” of his co-workers.
“If you’re not in it, you’re the bad guy,” he said. “The joke’s on them. I’m not taking it.”
“He’s a predator,” Pool Service Technician Scott Collins, who has confronted the worker, said. “He’s threatened my safety many times and I’m sick of it.”
The accused individual said that Collins had an agenda against him.
“Scott Collins and [a certain female employee] shouldn’t even be working here,” he said. “but I can’t do anything about it.”
Director of Human Resources Ruth Spencer said that the case is “under investigation” and declined to comment on the specifics of the sexual harassment procedures. The offended employees however, are unsatisfied.
“If something happens to one of my coworkers, I’m going to hold the College liable,” one office assistant said. “They’ve been made aware of the situation and need to deal with this individual before blood is shed.”
The reports of this employee’s misconduct are not new. In 2001, he was banned from entering King, Rice and Talcott after repeatedly threatening a female custodian. He allegedly followed her to the basement while she was trying to get away from him and verbally threatened her.
On March 23 of last year, the sanctions were lifted from the employee, who was once again allowed to enter all campus buildings, in a letter from Assistant Director of Facilities Keith Watkins.
Spencer said that she was not aware that this employee had been barred from or reinstated into any buildings.
However, Watkins said that the ban and its removal was on orders from the Human Resources department.
“All disciplinary action goes through Human Resources,” he said.
According to co-workers, this individual tends to prey upon women.
The accused employee said he just expected the same work from women as he did from men,
“I don’t mind working with women,” the individual said. “But they have to do their share.”
One such instance took place in the Service Garage while several workers were sitting at a table filling out request forms.
A witness to the incident described it this way:
“[The individual] was sitting there while she was filling out key request forms and he kept talking about his nine inch cock. She yelled at him, “just shut up and sign it,” and that’s when we all started laughing. He said ‘Fuck you’ and threw the requisition and the key back at her. She left the room in tears and he kept talking about ‘that fucking bitch.’”
The involved worker was not available to confirm or deny these events.
Dozens of reports have been filed about this individual by a variety of employees across campus.
A UAW official said that he had met with Spencer “more times than I could count” to discuss this individual’s behavior.
On April 6, six employees met with Spencer in her office where they were told that the matter was under investigation.
According to several witnesses, Spencer told the Talcott custodian who had been harassed that she should “stand up for herself, with a mop handle if necessary.”
Spencer was bewildered when asked if she had given that advice and said she “needed more context” to make any comment.
Workers say the incidents have not stopped since the meeting with Spencer. Several weeks ago a UAW official reported being threatened and nearly injured by this employee, who was driving his car at the time.
“I was leaving work around quitting time,” the worker remembered. “He pulled out of the parking space and the front corner of his vehicle nearly clipped me on his right side. He had been sitting in the parking lot with the motor running and he definitely saw me.”
Two witnesses confirmed this account.
“If he had stopped for just a second he would have been hit,” one worker declared.
Spencer said she was aware of the incident.
“It’s part of the investigation,” she said.
The employee insisted that the charges were all part of a pattern of bullying by the exclusive clique.
“They think it’s funny,” he said. “But it’s not funny anymore.”
Employees have also filed complaints with Cammile Mitchell the Campus Assault Policy Coordinator. After the car incident, complaints were lodged with the city police and the local prosecutor. No response was issued and no action was taken by either party.
“What’s it going to take before they act?” Collins said. “Is he going to have to actually hurt somebody physically? Is he going to have to do this to a student? What does it take?”