Hugs and harassment accusations in $200K lawsuit against Metro

WASHINGTON – A Metro employee is suing the agency for at least $200,000 after she says a supervisor repeatedly asked her for hugs and her bosses eventually retaliated against her for reporting the sexual harassment.

The lawsuit filed in federal court accuses Metro supervisors of ignoring the unwanted advances, even though another assistant superintendent in the bus division told the Upper Marlboro woman “That’s right, burn him up. He has a history of sexual harassment and he keeps getting away with it.”

According to the complaint, first reported by WTOP, when the woman rejected the supervisor’s request for a hug in December 2013 and told him that she was married to another Metro employee named Antawan, he told her, “Ain’t nobody thinking ‘bout no Antawan.”

Several months later, at a funeral for another bus operator, the “former assistant superintendent” told her to, “Hurry up and give me a hug before Antawan comes over here,” according to the complaint. When she said no, the complaint quotes him as responding, “Woman, ain’t nobody thinking about no Antawan.”

Metro had no comment on the lawsuit.

A complaint in the case was first filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in August 2014.

Several other claims in the suit cite statements the woman did not hear herself, but instead were reported to her by colleagues, according to her lawsuit.

One assistant superintendent told the employee he had suggested her husband for a new managerial position in Arlington, and the response from the supervisor was: “Hell no, I’m tired of this husband and wife bull***, they ain’t coming out here with that s***.”

Eventually, after the woman brought her complaints to Metro’s head of bus transportation, Dana Baker, the suit says the supervisor was reassigned to the Bladensburg Division, where the woman’s husband worked. According to the suit, Baker said she was required to report the harassment allegations to the EEOC.

About a week after that, the woman who filed the complaint said she did not get her expected choice of job assignment for the following year, which she alleges was retaliation for reporting the harassment. When she raised the charge to Baker, the suit quotes Baker as responding “since you can’t work under the stress from being harassed, maybe this isn’t the job for you.”

A short time later, another employee told the woman Baker had said “she is so ignorant making complaints in-house, she is too ignorant to know she needs to take it outside of the company. I don’t care who she complains to as long as it’s here at WMATA.”

The suit notes that the woman had raised equal employment opportunity concerns in the past.

The lawsuit claims Baker’s conduct “created a climate of fear and intimidation” for the Metro employee.

In the suit, the employee says stress from dealing with the harassment kept her from reporting to work several times, in one case until she got a new job assignment.

The suit claims Baker permitted a working environment where sexual harassment was tolerated, in violation of Metro’s own sexual harassment policies. “Such actions were taken by or with the knowledge of WMATA officials,” the complaint stated. “Defendant and their agents have been deliberately indifferent to the unlawful and unconstitutional activity that occurs at the Agency.”

The suit asks for at least $200,000, a new job assignment, medical costs, lost wages, back pay and benefits, future wages, attorney’s fees and new training for the supervisors involved.

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