Former Londonderry UPS employee charges sexual harassment, retaliation in lawsuit
This story was originally produced by the NH Business Review. NHPR is republishing it in partnership with the Granite State News Collaborative.
A quality insurance auditor at the United Parcel Service facility in Londonderry says she was repeatedly sexually harassed by seven co-workers and was fired for reporting it to authorities, according to a case that was moved to federal court last week.
In a complaint filed with the New Hampshire Human Rights Commission, Paula Gambeski says the incidents began shortly after she was promoted in 2015. She says they ranged from texted penises, being asked to expose her breasts, sexual propositions, physically grabbing her behind and shoving.
When she complained to her manager, she alleges, her complaints were dismissed — sometimes with sexual comments — and ignored, says the filing. After filing her HRC complaint and an assault charge against her supervisor, she was fired in April 2017, according to the complaint.
The charges, first filed with the HRC in May 2017, were amended to include more details the following year and added UPS Supply Chain Solutions as the defendant. Such filings are normally not public until the commission issues a decision.
The HRC investigators found probable cause for sexual harassment, but not for retaliation, on May 25 of this year. A hearing was scheduled for February of next year. It was also heading to Superior Court, but UPS attorneys from Littler Mendelson, a firm in Portland, Maine, filed a motion to move the case U.S. District Court in Concord. A federal judge did so on Aug. 17, thereby making the complaint against its client public.
In its motion, UPS denies the “claims in their entirety” but does not respond to specifics.
A call to the Littler firm was not returned, but UPS did issue the following general statement in response to the suit: “One of UPS’s core values is people should be respected and protected in the workplace. The company does not tolerate comments or actions that are considered harassment or retaliatory. We offer our employees several ways to report and resolve issues with confidence, and we respond promptly when concerns are brought to our attention.”
Gambeski is represented by Nancy Richards-Stower, an attorney in Yarmouth, Maine, who would not talk about the allegations, but about the lengthy time it takes for a harassed victim to get justice.
“The long and arduous legal process for the victim of harassment is made worse by a statute passed by an earlier [state] legislature which let the employer pull the case out of the HRC and slam it into state court,” she said. “And if the employer is located outside of New Hampshire, then it can shove it into federal court, whether or not she has a lawyer or if she prefers the more private process of the Human Rights Commission.”
In January, female employees of UPS in California filed a class action suit charging that the company has an “old boys club culture.” That suit alleges that women who are “outwardly feminine” are required to show their commitment to the company in ways other employees don’t have to. And in March, a suit was filed by an employee in Texas who said that her supervisor harassed her by making sexual comments and inappropriately touching her.
UPS, which reported more than $97 billion in revenue and , with profits of nearly $13 billion last year. It has 534,000 employees of which 444,000 are in the U.S.
These articles are being shared by partners in The Granite State News Collaborative. For more information visitcollaborativenh.org.