Harrah’s not only tolerated sexual harassment but covered it up, alleges a new set of lawsuits against the casino.
Two workers filing those suits are the first to make allegations that go beyond The Pool nightclub and since-fired manager Raymond Montgomery, who is the target of 13 lawsuits that have been filed since November.
Until now, Montgomery was allegedly the sole aggressor in the accusations, although the casino, its leaders and several Human Resources employees were accused of allowing the harassment to continue. Harrah’s has responded by saying as soon as they were made aware of the allegations an investigation was conducted and Montgomery was terminated. He has refused to comment.
But now, two of three suits filed last week allege the environment of harassment existed outside of the water-themed club and Montgomery. And those who were supposed to implement the policies meant to protect employees instead allowed harassment to continue, the suits allege.
One woman says she was working in a parking garage bathroom June 18, 2005, when a co-worker who had been harassing her came in and sexually assaulted her. The woman — whose name is being withheld due to the nature of the charges — reported the incident to police, and received workers’ compensation as a result.
No one was arrested in the case, even though police confirmed both the woman and the man she accused are named in the report.
The suit claims she never pursued charges because relatives of the man — who also worked at the casino — intimidated her. When she reported the relatives to Mylka Naranjo in Human Resources, she was told: “Stop being a baby,” according to the suit.
At one point, she charges, she was even assigned to work with the men whom she had reported were harassing her. The hostile work environment allegedly continued to at least this past December.
Bridgeton-based attorney Thomas Seeley, who said he has 20 plaintiffs so far, believes some workers were afraid to come forward until seeing that others have.
“What I think may be happening, is some other workers are saying, ‘I’ve put up with this for years,’” he said.
While the suits claim several members of management ignored workers’ claims, Naranjo and manager Tim Kreischer were the most culpable, according to the claims. Both worked in Human Resources and were supposed to implement policies to maintain a non-hostile work environment, but instead they allowed it to continue unabated, the suits allege.
Kreischer — the former mayor of Ventnor — “further engaged in a concealment and cover-up of such instances of sexual harassment and the creation of a hostile work environment in the workplace in order to prevent wrongdoing of co-employees, supervisory and managerial level employees from being exposed,” the suit states.
Reached at his home, Kreischer referred all comment to Harrah’s. A telephone number could not be found for Naranjo.
“We’re not trying to create any type of feeling towards the casino or Harrah’s,” Seeley said. “We want to simply present the facts that we have and let a neutral fact-finder determine whether or not what Harrah’s has done is a violation of the law under sexual discrimination.”
Harrah’s spokeswoman Alyce Parker said the company has only received one of the three new lawsuits, and legal counsel is reviewing it.
She previously has said Harrah’s Entertainment has a zero tolerance policy when it comes to any form of harassment.
“Our policy encourages employees to bring such issues to our attention so that we can investigate and take appropriate action,” she has said.
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