March 1st, 2011 | by JAMES PITKIN News | Posted In: Cops and Courts, Business, Activism

JUICY SUITS: Former Teamsters Worker Says Union Fired Her for Resisting Sex, Trying to Unionize

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A former bookkeeper for Teamsters Local 162 in Portland is suing the union, claiming her boss fired her for denying his sexual advances and, ironically enough, for trying to unionize her fellow office workers.

In the lawsuit filed Feb. 18 in Multnomah County Circuit Court, Laurie Padden says the union hired her in June 2002. Under her most recent contract, signed in 2006, she was making $23.44 an hour, the lawsuit says. (She was also charged about $5,000 for political contributions, according to the suit.)

On Jan. 1, 2010, her old boss was replaced when Bob Sleight took over as the new secretary-treasurer of the local, the lawsuit says. According to Padden's lawsuit, Sleight soon established "a climate of control, fear and retaliation in the office."

"Sleight established a continuing pattern and practice, which created and maintained a hostile work environment based on sex," the lawsuit says, "including openly flaunting his sexual relationships, flaunting his sexuality, injecting sex and sexual innuendo into conversations with the office staff, injecting stories about sex into conversations with the office staff, bragging about his sexual exploits and commenting on the size of his member."

Padden's lawsuit claims Sleight singled her out for "comments about her appearance, nails, clothing, shoes, and hair; telling her she was 'hot;' delivering inappropriate gifts and sexually suggestive cards to Padden; referring to Padden with inappropriate familiarity; and naming Padden as a beneficiary on his life insurance."

According to the lawsuit, Padden "understood Sleight's conduct to be an attempt to solicit sexual favor," and she declined.

The lawsuit says Padden and other employees engaged in private conversations at work about Sleight's behavior and "the advisability of asking a union to begin efforts to organize the office workers into a bargaining unit."

Sleight violated employees' privacy by eavesdropping on the office phone system, the lawsuit says.

According to the suit, Padden was fired on Feb. 19, 2010. Her lawsuit claims breach of contract, sex discrimination, wrongful discharge and breach of privacy.

The suit, filed by Lake Oswego lawyer Linda Marshall, seeks $300,000 in economic damages, $300,000 in pain and suffering, plus assorted other lost wages and penalties.

Sleight has not yet returned a phone message seeking comment.

 
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