Ohio woman says she was discriminated against at Heiner's

By Kelly Holleran | Nov 19, 2008

HUNTINGTON - An Ohio woman has filed suit against Heiner's Bakery, Sara Lee and two of its supervisors, alleging her co-workers sexually discriminated against her while she worked for the company.

Deborah K. Nance claims she was repeatedly harassed while she worked as a full-time janitor in the company's sanitation department.

One of her supervisors, Charlie Wood, assigned Nance "more difficult and demanding tasks than other male employees," the suit filed Oct. 17 in Cabell Circuit Court states.

Wood and Calvin Stover, another of Nance's supervisors, also allowed Nance's co-workers to harass her, according to the complaint.

"Specifically, Ms. Nance was subjected to deliberate and often dangerous harassment, including but not limited to, greasing her mop handles, altering her work equipment, destroying and/or stealing her tools and personal property, and tampering with her food," the suit states.

Nance claims she asked her supervisors to stop the harassment multiple times, but neither Stover nor Wood adequately addressed it.

Nance then filed a complaint with the West Virginia Human Rights Commission, according to the complaint.

Nance claims Wood and Stover retaliated against her for her action, increasing her job duties and "unfairly scrutinizing her work."

In addition, Stover yelled at Nance and called her a "rat," according to the complaint.

Nance found "a plastic rat and a pacifier were taped to her locker door at different times," the suit states.

Nance was fired on Jan. 4, 2007, according to the complaint.

The termination marked the second time Nance had been let go from the company, the suit states.

Nance began working for Heiner's in August 2002 as a part-time probationary sanitation employee, but was dismissed at the end of her probationary period, according to the complaint.

Stover told her that Heiner's no longer needed her services because "she couldn't climb that well," the suit states.

But Nance claims she performed her various job duties in a "satisfactory, even exemplary, manner."
She complained to the Human Resources Department about Stover's firing and was re-instated to full-time janitor in May 2003, according to the complaint.

Because of Stover's and Wood's conduct, Nance claims she suffered economic loss, emotional and mental distress, humiliation, anxiety, fear, apprehension, embarrassment, depression, aggravation, annoyance, inconvenience and a loss of her capacity to enjoy life.

In the four-count suit, Nance is seeking a declaratory judgment declaring the acts of the Defendants to be in violation of a provision of the West Virginia code and a permanent injunction against Heiner's and Sara Lee ordering them to establish and ongoing training program for its employees on sex discrimination and harassment in the workplace.

In addition, she is seeking lost wages, front pay, unspecified compensatory and punitive damages, economic losses, attorney's fees, prejudgment and post-judgment interest and any other relief the court determines appropriates.

Cabell Circuit Court case number: 08-C-0899

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