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Sunday, May 19, 2024 | Back issues
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Woman Says Boss Asked Her to Be a Prostitute

(CN) - The CEO of an Alabama design company asked an employee to prostitute herself to his business partners, and even bought her a credit card swiper to use in the transactions, the woman claims in federal court.

Tammy Belk sued her former employer CASA Designs LLC last week in the federal court in Birmingham, Ala., claiming gender discrimination and sexual harassment.

According to the complaint, Belk began working for CASA Designs as a data-entry clerk in September of 2012. She was later promoted to a proposal writer, a job in which she was supervised by company CEO Andy Knights.

As alleged in the complaint, Knights began making unwanted sexual comments towards Belk in December of 2012. The comments were graphic in nature and included such direct examples as "With a body built like yours you could handle a big cock" and "If I was on your ass you would like it and wouldn't want me off."

The "perverse verbal agitations" were overheard by other employees, and despite their being reported to company officials "in early 2013," they were not investigated.

Unchecked by the company, Knights allegedly pushed his solicitations even further.

"CEO Knights began texting Plaintiff asking her to prostitute herself to his 'business partners,' and that he would keep a fifteen percent (15%) cut of her earnings from the prostitution," the complaint says.

Belk says Knights even purchased "a credit card swiper for Plaintiff's phone to use in the prostitution, which Plaintiff refused."

The stress of the ongoing harassment led plaintiff to seek medical treatment, and she was prescribed Paxil "to assist her with dealing with the anxiety created by her hostile work environment."

Belk continued to reject the CEO's offers, which were again reported to company officials in April 2013. According to the complaint, the company's owner responded by saying "that Plaintiff would be compensated if she kept her mouth shut."

An attorney came to CASA to conduct interviews about the harassment on May 1, 2013, and Belk was terminated from her employment days later, on May 3, the complaint says.

Belk says her former employer violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by allowing the sexual harassment to occur at its offices.

She also alleges retaliatory discharge against CASA. After Belk's co-workers complained about the harassment on her behalf, she was let go from her job, the complaint says.

Belk is seeking compensatory damages and injunctive relief. She is represented by Lauren Shine of Birmingham.

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