Six women who worked for nearly a decade at the Long Island division of a government contractor claim that supervisors sexually harassed them and then fired the women last year for rejecting their sexual advances.
One of the women, all of whom are El Salvadorian, described their experiences working as inspectors at the mail-equipment repair facility owned by Texas-based Alan Ritchey Inc. at news conference on Wednesday at the offices of Carle Place-based Leeds Morelli & Brown. The women are exploring the possibility of filing a federal lawsuit against the company and the men who allegedly harassed them.
The women filed complaints with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) in April and those complaints were cross-filed with the New York State Division of Human Rights. The EEOC is investigating the cases, but now that the 180-day review period has ended, the women may be able to file suit.
“I came to this country to work hard, not to work in a place where the manager asks to have sex with you,” said Samantha Reyes, 38, of Bellmore. She said that one day one of the managers forced her into an empty truck and tried to force her to have sex with him at work. He told her that if she did there would be benefits, but she said she refused.
A number of the estimated 50 women who work there have had similar experiences, she said, adding that some women go through with it because they are afraid of losing their jobs. Another time, she said, a manager told her to leave work early and join him at a motel for sex. She said the said the alleged sexual harassment began in 2003 and was a daily occurrence.
“I’m afraid to go back to work,” Reyes said, flanked by Jeffrey Brown, senior partner at the law firm, Nadia Marin-Molina, executive director of the Hempstead-based Workplace Project, an immigrant rights group, and five other Hispanic women who were also allegedly victimized.
“People have rights in the country, even if they are not legal citizens,” Brown said, noting that all of the women have their working papers but are not US citizens. “These are women who are in desperate need of their jobs,” most of whom are married with children but are now unemployed, he said.
Brown said he has reached out to the EEOC investigators and plans to ask the agency for the permission to sue the company.
The women also named the Ronkonkoma-based Local 1222 of the United Public Service Employee Union in their complaints, alleging the union failed to advocate for them.
Reyes said she was afraid to call the police about the persistent alleged sexual harassment because she was afraid of losing her job. But when she and five others collectively complained about the hostile environment—which included three managers and an assistant manager who routinely exposed themselves to the women or propositioned them—they were fired shortly after in June 2008.
Brown said the women had not been fired for economic reasons and that newly hired workers replaced them. A call to Alan Ritchey, which operates the Edgewood-based plant for the U.S. Postal Service, was not returned.
The women include Rosa Reyes of Baldwin, Maris Campos of Brentwood, Rosa Rivas of Brentwood, Iris Campos Chavez of Huntington Station and Lillian Cavez Campos of Brentwood.
“This one of the most shocking cases our firm has ever had,” said Brown, who is looking for more women to come forward. “This was a disgusting and lascivious environment.”