MANHATTAN (CN) – Hitting the security contractors for Kennedy Airport with a federal complaint, a fired guard says the Queens hub is overrun with porn-watching bigots.
“This is not a case of a few bad apples, or a couple of discrete instances of harassment,” LaDonna Powell says in the complaint. “The culture of Allied at JFK is one of discrimination and harassment. Instead of providing security services pursuant to Allied’s contract with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, Allied supervisors wasted taxpayers’ dollars by, for example, spending their work hours circulating pornographic videos and propositioning female employees for sex.”
Allied Universal Security Services, the lead defendant named in the Oct. 10 complaint, is the product of a 2016 merger, but Powell notes that the same supervisors were in power since her hiring in 2012, regardless of subsequent name changes and corporate takeovers.
“During her four years working for Allied at John F. Kennedy International Airport, Ms. Powell was presented with a choice: have sex with male supervisors and get ahead, or refuse and be relentlessly harassed and retaliated against,” the 42-page complaint states.
Represented by the firm Emery Celli Brinckerhoff & Abady, 32-year-old Powell says she chose the latter and paid dearly for it, facing “a shocking campaign of hazing, abuse, and discrimination as a result of her gender and race.”
Supervisors and human resources never heeded Powell’s many complaints of harassment, instead embarking on a months-long campaign of retaliation, according to the complaint.
After losing hours and being stripped of supervisory duties, Powell says she was finally fired in May 2016 — only learning of her termination in the midst of applying for a mortgage when she could not to log into Allied’s online portal.
Though most of the harassment Powell describes is conduct she experienced firsthand, she notes that black and female workers were uniformly mistreated. As a supervisor, Powell says the guards she trained confided in her about being called the N-word and even about an alleged sexual assault after a work event.
There are “multiple women who say they’ve experienced the same hazing and abuse,” Powell’s attorney Elizabeth Saylor said in a statement.
West Indian by descent, Powell says had to endure racial harassment as well as sexual.
“I’m tired of all of you niggers,” one security supervisor allegedly said to Powell in 2015. “I’m tired of seeing your nigger faces.”
In addition to making countless lewd comments and propositions, Powell says her supervisors forced her to watch pornographic videos, including security and homemade footage of other guards having sex.
Again Powell’s complaints had little effect. One supervisor whom Powell describes as having touched her breasts on several occasions is quoted in the complaint as saying: “there are things you can do to get where you want to go.”
“Since everybody already thinks we had sex, let’s bend you over the table,” this same man also said, according to the complaint,
Powell claims that her reviews before the firing were exemplary, even being told by one of Allied’s vice presidents that he wished he had “a hundred LaDonnas” at the company.
Powell says her project manager had a change of tune when he fired her last year. “I don’t like the type of person you are,” he allegedly said.
Seven individual guards are named as defendants to the suit alongside Allied and subsidiary Allied Barton Security Services LLC.
A spokeswoman for Allied declined to comment on the lawsuit. The Port Authority’s inspector general reportedly is looking into the allegations.
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