Woman Claims Female| Judge Harassed Her

     BATON ROUGE, La. (CN) – After dodging the sexual advances of a female judge for whom she worked, the judge bought panties for her, a woman claims in Federal Court.
     The panties – two of them, black, from Victoria’s Secret – came on the heels of several offers that Bremenda Bellue travel for work and pleasure with Judge Elizabeth Warren, the administrative judge for Louisiana’s District 6, according to the July 31 complaint.
     Bellue says she worked as Warren’s legal secretary at the Louisiana Workforce Commission, Office of Worker’s Compensation Administration from December 2008 until she was constructively discharged in March of 2009.
     “Judge Warren immediately expressed sexual interest in Bellue,” the lawsuit says.
     “During her first weeks on the job, Bellue attempted to ignore Judge Warren’s behavior as she trained and learned the standard office procedures,” according to the complaint. “Because of this unwelcome sexual harassment by Judge Warren, Bellue began to see a private counselor for therapy shortly after beginning to work at the OWC.”
     “On January 2, 2008, Judge Warren asked Bellue if she would accompany her on a trip to Lafayette, where Judge Warren would be presiding over a case. Bellue found this request to be odd and inappropriate, and politely declined,” the lawsuit says. “Bellue knew that accompanying Judge Warren to a hearing was beyond the scope of her normal job duties as a legal secretary.”
     A week later, the complaint says, Judge Warren began using pet names when talking about Bellue, like calling her “girl” and her “baby.”
     Shortly thereafter, Judge Warren allegedly began touching and making comments about Bellue’s body, particularly her buttocks and breasts. Warren reportedly grabbed Bellue’s butt and said, “You got that fine behind;”
     On other occasions, Judge Warren allegedly touched Bellue’s breasts and commented on how small they were, according to the complaint.
     “Bellue found it hard to make it through the workday without feeling degraded and embarrassed by Judge Warren’s behavior towards her,” the lawsuit says.
     Also, around this time, Judge Warren allegedly began to invite Bellue to travel with her outside of work. Bellue always declined.
     Then, “as Bellue became more uncomfortable sticking up for herself, Judge Warren’s blatant sexual harassment took a larger form,” according to the complaint.
     “In May 2008, Judge Warren gave Bellue two pairs of black Victoria Secret panties as a gift. When Bellue opened the present, Judge Warren told her: ‘I bet your little butt looks cute in these,’ the lawsuit says. “Bellue then realized that Judge Warren’s escalating harassment would continue whether Bellue rejected her advances or not.”
     In June 2008, Bellue reached a six month anniversary of her hire and became eligible for a small promotion and raise, which ordinarily paves the way for permanent status.
     Warren, however, did not give Bellue a permanent position and instead kept her on as a probational appointment, telling Bellue things like “We can work on the status of your employment,” the lawsuit says.
     In August 2008, “Warren started to bully Bellue by criticizing her work and accusing her of things she had not done,” the complaint says.
     That same month, Warren allegedly accused Bellue of having an affair with another District 6 Judge, Robert Varnado, and fired her as of the end of the month.
     Bellue says she then went to Judge Varnado, explained the situation, and he offered her an open position. Varnado also approached Warren to ask if she would be comfortable with Bellue coming to work for him.
     Warren said she would be fine with it, the lawsuit says, but two months later, in retaliation for Bellue dodging Warren’s advances, Warren made an anonymous complaint that Bellue and Varnado were having an affair, causing Bellue to be transferred to a worksite in Harahan, 90 miles from her home, the lawsuit says.
     Now that Bellue would be far away from Warren, she told her supervisor everything she had endured under the judge, the lawsuit says.
     Bellue was promised a promotion and raise and an unbiased performance review under a new supervisor, which was supposed to help her achieve permanent status, she says.
     Bellue quickly realized, however, that the judge under whom she would be working was friends with Judge Warren, and through the new judge, Warren continued to control Bellue’s work situation, the lawsuit says, until, eventually, Bellue was forced to quit.
     Bellue seeks compensatory and punitive damages on claims of sex discrimination and retaliation.
     He is represented by Victor Farrugia of New Orleans.

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