Sexually-harassed employees say state won't help them
BATON ROUGE - A group of people say their employer sexually harassed them, but they quickly found out there's little help from the state about their case. They called 2 On Your Side to help shed light on a prevalent topic.
The four people who came forward to WBRZ say the business they worked for is so small, there's not much to protect them and they're looking for a change.
"I can see why no one has come forward, because they feel like there's nothing they can do," said Jillian Tomeno.
Frustration encouraged Tomeno to come forward.
"He thinks he can get away with it, because he has," said Tomeno.
Another employee of the unnamed business says the sexual harassment started the first day on the job.
"He'd immediately grope, grab and ask for favors, sexual favors," she said.
Some of these former employees spent days, others weeks working for this employer. They also say they're missing paychecks.
"I'm owed money, this isn't the first time I've had to deal with this," said Logan Bougeois.
Recently, Tomeno says the harassment hit a new level and says each encounter became inappropriate. She says her former employer would grab her around the waist and pull her toward him, sometimes trying to kiss her.
Text messages she's kept from the boss say, "If you don't want date, want just work, it's fine too," and "OK, date for now, no sex is fine."
While Tomeno and her former colleagues say what's happening is wrong, they say their cries for help have gone unanswered.
The Louisiana Workforce Commission tells 2 On Your Side the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) handles sexual harassment complaints. A report or complaint of sexual harassment to the EEOC is only actionable if the employer has 15 or more employees who worked for the employer for at least 20 calendar weeks. In Tomeno's case, the number of employees is fewer than 15. When the number is fewer than 15, the EEOC does not have legal jurisdiction to investigate the complaint or take action. The Louisiana Department of Labor says it's then up to the employee to hire a lawyer and proceed that way.
The Department of Labor says all employers should have a sexual harassment policy, in which the employer can investigate the sexual harassment claim, but Tomeno says she doesn't believe her former employer has such policy.
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