CHICAGO (CN) – A machine operator claims in court that he was harassed with vampire-style graffiti and fired after he rejected his male boss’s sexual advances.
Clifford Harris sued Electro-Motive Diesel, a train manufacturer, in Federal Court. Harris says he worked for the company for 4 years, until he was fired on a pretext.
He started working for Electro in 2006, Harris says in the complaint. Then, “On February 20, 2010, plaintiff’s locker was vandalized with sexually explicit language and images. Specifically, an unknown individual or individuals wrote ‘Transylvanian Whore,’ ‘voodoo bitch’ and ‘Dracula’s Locker’ on plaintiff’s locker in yellow paint and hung a liquid-filled condom on his locker,” according to the complaint.
Then, Harris says, things got worse: “In April 2010, [nonparty] John Howard became plaintiff’s supervisor.
“On or about April 15, 2010, plaintiff asked Howard why plaintiff had not been paid for some overtime hours he had worked. Howard responded that he would look into the matter and told plaintiff that he was ‘sexy.’
“Plaintiff made clear that the conduct was unwelcome and responded that he wasn’t sexy.
“The same day, Howard came up behind plaintiff while he was working and touched plaintiff’s shoulder. There was no reason for Howard to touch plaintiff. Because Howard had just made advances towards plaintiff that same day, plaintiff felt uncomfortable and frightened.”
Harris says he filed a sexual harassment complaint against Howard with the company’s manager of labor relations. Three days after he did so, Harris says: “Again, on April 18, 2010, John Howard deliberately came up behind plaintiff while plaintiff was trying to punch out at the end of his shift. Howard rubbed his body against the back of plaintiff’s body. Howard asked plaintiff, ‘did that scare you?’
“Other employees witnessed this conduct.”
Harris claims that he told the labor relations manager and Howard that he did not want to work overtime with Howard “because he was afraid of Howard and did not feel comfortable working with him.”
Nonetheless, he says, “On April 26, 2010 … defendant claimed that plaintiff had agreed to work overtime that weekend,” and suspended him for 30 days.
Harris says he never returned to work, that he was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress and depression, and the company fired him in November 2010.
He seeks damages for sexual harassment and retaliation.
He is represented by Adele Nicholas.