KANSAS CITY, Mo. (CN) – Two women say their bosses held mandatory sales meetings that included a “south of the border theme” where workers were called “spicks” and “wetbacks,” and another with a sexual theme that included a wet T-shirt contest, and a “toilet paper and plunger game” to “simulate sexual intercourse.”
“Managers planned, conducted and participated in these harassing games,” the women say, adding that “plaintiffs and other women were visibly horrified”.
Insurance agents Andrea Hultgren and Sheri Blankenship sued Missouri Farm Bureau Insurance Services in Jackson County Circuit Court. Both women say they complained about the “south of border” meeting of June 2009, “but their complaints were treated with indifference and contempt by the upper management.”
The women say that they and other agents, who have “many Hispanic clients,” found the meeting “outrageous, derogatory and inappropriate”.
Instead of toning it down, though, Farm Bureau Insurance “went over the top” the next year.
“They gave female agents sexually inappropriate titles such as, ‘The Babe’, ‘Daisy Dukes’ and for Hultgren ‘Andi-I don’t want to be here’, because she had complained about the prior year’s meeting,” the complaint states.
“At this event, managers used sexual innuendo about such topics as sexual positions, stamina, and Viagra. Hultgren and Blankenship were embarrassed and humiliated, and felt sexually harassed.
“At this same event there were two games that had a blatant sexual theme, such as a corn cob toss in which someone yelled ‘I’ll bet you’d like to sit on that (the corncob)’, and a wet T-shirt contest where the person was blind-folded and given a water gun. When the T-shirt was sprayed with the water gun it revealed a message. Plaintiffs and other women were visibly horrified, and no women volunteered for the game.
“The final and most offensive game was a ‘toilet paper and plunger game,’ in which one person had the plunger and the other a toilet paper roll. Both had to carry them between their legs. The object was to penetrate the toilet paper roll with the plunger handle, while both players kept the objects between their legs. Obviously this game was meant to simulate sexual intercourse.
“Plaintiffs were seriously offended after this blatantly sexual game, and the comments it generated such as ‘It’s not the size that matters, it’s what you do with it’, ‘keep your hands off your plungers;’ ‘drive it home;’ ‘take it from behind;’ ‘it’s your lucky day, I just shaved;’ and other disgusting language and behavior. Managers planned, conducted, and participated in these harassing games. Other women and men at the event found the spectacle beyond the bounds of decency and denigrating to them and the other women at this event.”
The complaint describes other sexually harassing behavior on other occasions, including “simulate[d] oral sex.”
The plaintiffs seek punitive damages for sexual harassment, hostile workplace, sex discrimination and retaliation. They are represented by Dennis Egan with The Popham Law Firm.