RICHMOND, Va. (CN) – A former employee demands $1 million from Greyhound, claiming a vice president told her to accede to her boss’s demands for a sexual tryst in a private room, so the VP could catch him in the act. But she says her boss dead-bolted the door and assaulted her anyway, and when she escaped and the VP saw her and her boss’s dishevelment, the VP fired the boss – and cut the plaintiff’s pay by 33 percent.
In her federal complaint, Jasmine Wheeler demands punitive damages from Greyhound Lines and her ex-boss, Samuel Blackwell.
She claims that Blackwell’s sexual harassment began within two days of her hiring, and that she objected to it in no uncertain terms.
She claims that Blackwell repeatedly told her he had keys to a private room in the Richmond terminal, and that “if she went there with him and [would] ‘give him a little,’ he would increase her hours. Plaintiff repeatedly told Blackwell ‘no,’ and to stop propositioning her.”
She says she reported the harassment to Kelly Storm, Greyhound vice president of human resources. Storm told her “that she would come to Richmond to address the situation,” and told her to go back to work, according to the complaint.
When she did return, Wheeler says, Blackwell told her “that he would fire her if she refused to go with him to the dorm room.”
The complaint continues: “That same day, plaintiff called Storm. Storm instructed plaintiff to comply with Blackwell’s demand, that she would come immediately to the Richmond terminal and surprise them, as she had a key. By giving plaintiff this instruction, Storm was hoping to catch Blackwell in the act of assaulting the plaintiff. …
“Pursuant to Storm’s instruction, plaintiff accompanied Blackwell to the dorm room. While in the room, Blackwell sexually assaulted plaintiff by ripping off her shirt, touching her body, and throwing her onto the bed. Blackwell further unzipped his pants, which put plaintiff in fear that Blackwell would rape her.
“Storm was unable to open the door, which Blackwell had locked with a deadbolt. Storm knocked on the door, and Blackwell covered plaintiff’s mouth with his hand, to keep her from screaming. Eventually, plaintiff was able to resist Blackwell and open the door. When plaintiff opened the door, Storm saw that plaintiff’s shirt was ripped open, and Blackwell’s pants were unzipped. Storm instructed plaintiff to go home, and said that she would call her.
“Later that day, Storm called plaintiff and told her that she fired Blackwell. Storm also dropped plaintiff’s pay to $9.25, which Storm claims was the appropriate pay rate per Greyhound’s internal policies.
“Blackwell had been paying plaintiff a higher salary than prescribed in order to entice her into giving in to his sexual advances.”
Wheeler says her first day at work for Greyhound was Sept. 10, 2008, and Blackwell attacked her in the room on Sept. 19.
She claims after Blackwell was fired, he “kept calling the terminal to see if plaintiff still worked there,” forcing her “to call Ron Damarey, City Manager, to check the parking lot for her safety.”
Eight months later, Wheeler says, Greyhound laid her off without telling her why. She says she was the only employee at the Richmond station laid off at the time.
She demands punitive damages from Greyhound and Blackwell, for sexual harassment, retaliation, negligent supervision and infliction of emotion distress. She is represented by William Shields.