CHARLESTON – A Mingo County woman has filed a suit against a national retail giant, claiming her supervisor sexually harassed her while she was working at the Logan County store.
Farrah Farley filed the suit Feb. 19 in Kanawha Circuit Court against Wal-Mart, her supervisor Calvin Stapleton and the assistant store manager, Gwendolyn McFallon.
According to the suit, Farley was hired in June 2007, as a sales associate in the toy department at the Logan Wal-Mart. She claims Stapleton started expressing “an inappropriate sexual interest” toward her.
Farley claims Stapleton made inappropriate comments that ranged from “those pants look good on you,” to asking to compare his fiancee’s and Farley’s breast augmentation surgeries and feel her breasts.
According to the suit, Stapleton continued to touch her and make inappropriate comments, but she did not report it for fear of retribution and because she needed income to provide support for her sister’s child, who was in her custody.
Farley claims she became a member of the Personal Sustainability Program, which required that she report to Stapleton’s office after every conference call or meeting.
“Over the next several weeks, Stapleton’s behavior rapidly escalated into harassing and threatening comments and finally additional and more severe unwanted sexual contact and fondling,” the suit says.
Farley claims that on at least two occasions, Stapleton grabbed her breasts and on one other occasion, grabbed her buttocks.
According to the suit, Stapleton told Farley he chose his office because it did not have cameras.
In mid-to-late October 2007, Farley claims Stapleton grabbed her hand and put it on his erect penis and asked her to perform sexual favors. Farley walked out of his office.
According to the suit, Stapleton told Farley that if she did not have sex with him, she would be fired.
The suit says that over the next few days Stapleton continued to harass and intimidate Farley.
Farley claims Stapleton asked her over to his apartment and, out of fear of losing her job, complied. Upon arriving, Stapleton told Farley she “looked tense” and handed her a marijuana cigarette, the suit says.
After initially refusing to smoke it, Farley agreed to do it because Stapleton became very angry, the suit says. Farley was then forced into a sexually compromising situation because she feared she would lose her job and also feared for her physical safety.
“After the encounter, Stapleton told Farley that if she ‘reported him he would know’ and he would have her ‘punished,’” the suit said.
Stapleton then asked Farley to come to his apartment a second time, but she did not show, which “infuriated” Stapleton, the suit says.
According to the suit, Stapleton continued his pattern of intimidating behavior and demands for sexual favors. On one occasion, Stapleton asked for a sexual favor in his office, which Farley refused.
Farley claims short after she refused, McFallon ordered her to submit a drug test based upon a “reasonable suspicion” of drug use. Farley was informed by an unknown person on a phone in McFallon’s office that a manager had made a complaint about her, based on slurred speech and glassy eyes, the suit says.
“The man on the phone refused to identify the manager that had made the complaint, but it is believed that Stapleton made this complaint in retaliation for Farley’s refusal to acquiesce to his ongoing illegal and unwanted sexual misconduct, and with the knowledge that he had forced Farley to smoke a marijuana cigarette,” the suit says.
Farley claims she realized she would fail the drug test, and tried to quit and walk out of McFallon’s office, but McFallon shut the door with her foot, which illegally detained Farley, the suit says.
Farley was told she could not quit without first providing a blood screen and saliva screen. After refusing the tests, Farley was fired and escorted out of Wal-Mart.
After she was fired, Farley claims she met with someone regarding Stapleton’s conduct and signed a statement against him. Farley claims she was promised a full investigation, but was not contacted after the investigation to be offered reemployment. The suit says Stapleton was suspended and eventually fired based on his conduct with Wal-Mart employees.
Farley claims Stapleton’s actions constitute unwelcome sexual advances by someone who had the authority to influence vital job decisions.
In the 10-count suit, Farley claims she suffered severe emotional and mental distress, humiliation, anxiety, embarrassment, aggravation, annoyance and inconvenience.
Farley seeks back pay, front pay, compensatory and punitive damages for her injuries.
Attorney Mark L. French is representing Farley. The case has been assigned to Judge Charles King.
Kanawha Circuit Court case number 08-C-341