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Monday, July 22, 2024 | Back issues
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The World’s Worst Boss?

GAINESVILLE, Fla. (CN) - An HR boss for the nation's largest provider of services to disabled people constructively fired a woman by forcing her to give him oral sex and then calling her at 2 a.m. and demanding phone sex, the woman claims in court.

Lachell Rocks fka Lachell Johnson-DeVito sued Res-Care Inc., in Alachua County Court.

Based in Louisville, Ky., Res-Care describes itself on its website as the nation's largest provider of services to people with disabilities.

Rocks worked for Res-Care in Alachua County, in Northern Florida, from August 2002 until February 2010, according to the lawsuit.

She claims her supervisor, Paul O'Roarke, sexually harassed and intimidated her, and that she put up with his inappropriate behavior to keep her job.

Rocks first complained about O'Roarke to Res-Care's headquarters in November 2009, after O'Roarke had her give him a ride, during which he told her "what he wanted to do to her sexually," according to the complaint.

Rocks claims a fellow employee told her that O'Roarke, who was the Florida human resources manager, was popular in the office and that she could lose her job if she complained.

"Mr. O'Roarke thereafter asked her to come in on a Saturday to make training books for him," the complaint states. "The plaintiff agreed as she needed the overtime from such work.

"When Mr. O'Roarke arrived for this Saturday work event, he showed up with his 'private part' sticking straight up in the air, grabbed the plaintiff's arm, and told the plaintiff 'come on, why you don't take care of me.'

"The plaintiff told Mr. O'Roarke 'no,' but he did not let her go and pushed her into her office and shut the door.

"The plaintiff told Mr. O'Roarke that 'this isn't right,' but he put his hand on her shoulder and pushed her down toward the floor.

"Mr. O'Roarke then pulled out his penis and put it into the plaintiff's face. She tried turning her head, but Mr. O'Roarke grabbed the back of her head and forced her to perform oral sex on him.

"The plaintiff ran out of the building after this horrendous ordeal and cried.

"Mr. O'Roarke told the plaintiff thereafter that she 'belonged to him' and called her his 'bitch.'

"Mr. O'Roarke thereafter called the plaintiff home at 2 a.m. wanting to have 'phone sex.' The plaintiff told Mr. O'Roarke that she had kids and that her husband was also there. Mr. O'Roarke responded by stating that if the plaintiff did not come over to his house that he would come over to the plaintiff's home and break her door down.

"The plaintiff, out of fear went to Mr. O'Roarke's house where she tried to stay in his bathroom, until Mr. O'Roarke came and got her. Mr. O'Roarke told her that 'if she stuck with him, she would go far.'"

Rocks eventually complained to O'Roarke's boss, who told her that she would be "opening up a whole box of worms" by reporting him, according to the lawsuit.

"When the plaintiff spoke to Mr. [regional human resources Director Skip] Finch, the first thing he said was 'I hope you are not going to tell me something that would change my opinion about Paul (O'Roarke),'" the complaint states. "He added that Paul did not have the best 'bedside manner,' but that he was good at what he does." (Parentheses, but not brackets, in complaint.)

Rocks claims that O'Roarke offered to pay her $100 for every time she would have sex with him, but she refused.

She claims O'Roarke retaliated against her for complaining by threatening her and berating her performance.

The company eventually investigated and suspended O'Roarke, who resigned shortly thereafter, according to the lawsuit.

Rocks says that when she returned to work, co-workers and managers gave her "the cold shoulder," blaming her for O'Roarke's resignation.

She claims O'Roarke caused her further distress by writing false statements about her in the appeal of his denial for unemployment benefits.

Rocks' supervisor then told her "it would be best" for her to resign, according to the complaint.

Rocks seeks an injunction, reinstatement, lost wages, and punitive damages for sexual harassment, retaliation and emotional distress.

She is represented by Joseph Shoemaker with Bogin, Munns & Munns, of Leesburg, Fla.

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