HUNTINGTON – A former employee is suing Regis Corporation after she says she was sexually harassed by the district manager.
Fiesta Salon and Lolanda Bentley were also named as defendants in the suit.
Paige Allison Walters worked for the defendants for approximately four years in its various locations as a hair stylist and then at Fiesta Salon as a manager, according to a complaint filed Dec. 21 in Cabell Circuit Court.
Walters claims Bentley was the district manager and was her supervisor.
During her employment, Walters worked in close proximity to and had regular contact with Bentley, who subjected her to unwelcome gestures, verbal comments and advances of a sexual nature, according to the suit.
Walters claims in October 2010, she attended a conference for the defendants in Sandusky, Ohio, where Bentley made advances on her, including taking a photograph of her, telling her how beautiful she was and how Bentley wanted to get to know her.
The advances became stronger on each visit Bentley made to the West Virginia area and she began to arrange lunches and meetings with Walters, according to the suit.
Walters claims Bentley repeatedly inquired whether or not she was happily married and if she was bisexual and suggested that she would give her a raise if she reciprocated Bentley’s affection.
In December 2010, Bentley asked Walters to join her for dinner at the Outback Steakhouse in Barboursville and during dinner, Walters observed Bentley placing what appeared to be a pill into Walters’ drink, according to the suit. When Bentley went to the restroom, Walters removed the substance from the drink and held onto it, the suit says.
Walters claims Bentley asked her to return to her hotel room across the Outback parking lot and when she refused, Bentley threatened her and told her not to bother coming back to work.
On Dec. 24, 2010, Walters feared to return to work because of Bentley and when she did not appear at Fiesta Salon, Bentley called Lawrence County, Ohio, 911 and reported Walters as missing, according to the suit. The Lawrence County Sheriff’s Department actually dispatched to Walters’ home to look for her, the suit says.
Walters claims Bentley continued to call and text her after the sheriff told her to refrain from doing so.
Following these incidents, Walters reported the incidents to Regis, following the proper chain of command, according to the suit, and Regis “supposedly… conducted an investigation." However, Regis had been informed on multiple occasions prior to the incidents of Bentley’s conduct, the suit claims.
Walters claims the defendants violated the West Virginia Human Rights Act by sexually harassing her and creating a hostile working environment.
The defendants’ actions caused Walters to suffer indignity, embarrassment, humiliation and emotional distress, according to the suit.
Walters is seeking compensatory and punitive damages with pre-judgment interest. She is being represented by Abraham J. Saad and Ashley Lockwood.
The case has been assigned to Circuit Judge F. Jane Hustead.
Cabell Circuit Court case number: 12-C-849