Work Was ‘Bizarre Environment,’ Woman Says

      NEWTON, N.J. (CN) – “Within several days of starting at Petro-Lubricant,” a worker says, “it became clear to [her] that she had entered a bizarre environment.” She claims her boss forced workers to listen to white supremacist radio, passed out “hate-filled white supremacist and atheist books” and “requires his employees to read them,” “smash(ed) a windshield of a female employee’s car with a sledgehammer” and “threatened to kill a female employee that refused to continue dating him.”

     Kristin Laforgia sued John and Josiah Wintermute and Petro-Lubricant Testing Laboratories in Sussex County Court. Laforgia says she worked as a chemist at the company for 17 years. She says she stayed at the job because she is a single mother with two kids and “this was the first job she could find that provided good pay and benefits.”
     Laforgia says she “believes that John [Wintermute] is a dangerous and violent alcoholic” and “often had employees fetch him alcohol during the work day.” She claims that John Wintermute, who “regularly drank at work”, also brought guns to the workplace. She claims he “target shoots behind the lab building and occasionally hunts on the company’s property,” then “brings birds he has killed back to the lab where he guts and cleans them” and feeds them to his dogs.
     Her complaint adds, “John not only hunts animals at work, but also hunts his female employees,” by harassing them.
     “John regularly harasses the women at work,” according to the 11-page complaint. It adds: “John has had affairs with several of the women that work at Petro and has attempted to have relationships with other women that work at the office.
     “John regularly uses profanity in the workplace and has referred to female employees as ‘bitches’ and ‘cunts.’ John has an explosive temper when drunk and upon information and belief, he has beaten or destroyed the property of female employees that he was having or had a personal relationship with.
     “Upon information and belief, John once smashed the windshield of a female employee’s car with a sledgehammer.
     “Upon information and belief, John once tried to kick in the door of another female employee during nonwork hours.
     “Upon information and belief, John assaulted another female employee while drunk one day at the office after hours.
     “Upon information and belief, John threatened to kill a female employee that refused to continue dating him.
     “On another occasion, Laforgia witnessed John, while in a rage, chase another female employee who ran out of the lab screaming in fear.
     “The environment was so bad that the women in the office had an informal agreement to make sure that no woman was left along in the lab after hours with John.”
     Laforgia that Wintermute’s brother, Josiah, “has always been and remains aware of his brother’s bizarre conduct and has done nothing to put a stop to it.”
     Laforgia claims a co-worker sued the company and John Wintermute, claiming that Wintermute had threatened to kill her when she stopped dating him. When Petro-Lubricant’s attorney came to the office to investigate the woman’s complaints, Laforgia says, she confirmed many of them.
     “The next time that Petro-Lubricant’s attorney came to speak with employees, Josiah went around to employees and told them that their jobs were on the line because Petro-Lubricant did not have insurance and [the woman’s] lawsuit could put them out of business,” the complaint states.
     “Josiah told one employee that lying for Petro-Lubricant was all right because it was self-preservation.”
     She claims the Wintermutes retaliated for her refusal to lie for the company by firing her, in what the called a “reorganizing” that eliminated her position.
     She seeks punitive damages for gender discrimination, hostile work environment, retaliation, whistle-blower retaliation, and assault and battery.
     She is represented by Colin Page of Parsippany.

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