Woman Files $13 Million Sex Discrimination Suit

Claims Harassment Continued After Prior Settlement With Waste Firm

February 20, 1992|By Arthur Hirsch | Arthur Hirsch,Staff writer

A Glen Burnie woman has filed a $13 million federal sex discrimination suit against a trash-hauling firm, claiming on-the-job harassment continued when she returned to work after settling a previous complaint.

Dawn Munday, a truck driver at Waste Management of Maryland's Elkridge station, claims that the company violated the terms of a confidential settlement they reached last April, after the Howard CountyHuman Rights Commission found "reasonable cause" to believe she was a victim of discrimination.

The settlement came two years after Munday, the only female truckdriver at the Elkridge yard, complained to the commission that she'dbeen subjected to harassing remarks, rumors about her sexual conductand had been forced to pick up truck keys and work assignments in the men's locker room/bathroom.

In the complaint filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Baltimore, Munday claims that when she returned to work in July, she was paid less than the other drivers and that her benefits were not restored. She also claims that her bosses demanded to know if she were planning to sue the company for sexual harassment, and instructed her co-workers not to talk to her and to report what she said to the company.

The suit, naming Waste Management of North America Inc. and Waste Management of Maryland as defendants, characterizes the company's actions as "retaliatory," and claims Munday,33, suffered physical illness as a result of job stress. The suit, claiming Civil Rights Act violations, seeks $3 million in compensatorydamages and $10 million in punitive damages. A federal court clerk said that as of yesterday, notice of the action had not been served onthe company.

Company general manager Robert Bohager, who works atthe Elkridge office, said yesterday he knew nothing about the suit and referred questions to corporate headquarters in Oak Brook, Ill. Company lawyer Steve Bergerson did not return a telephone message yesterday afternoon.

Munday said yesterday that she's been out on sick leave since Aug. 7 because of back spasms. She said her doctor diagnosed the spasms as related to job stress. She hopes to return to work in two weeks "if all goes well."

Munday said that when she received her first paycheck after returning to work in July she noticed thather base rate of pay was $8.15 an hour, while the other drivers weregetting $8.90. The base pay is a starting rate and does not include productivity bonuses that drivers routinely earn, Munday said.

Shesaid she was making nearly $40,000 a year before she filed her initial complaint in 1989.

She also said that her health insurance benefits had not been restored, as called for in the April 1991 agreement. She said the company did live up to its promise to provide a women's bathroom by moving a mobile trailer to the truck yard. However, they never supplied toilet paper or soap, she said.

"I thought we hadcome to an agreement as adults and it was over with," said Munday. "From the moment I returned to work I was discriminated against, I washarassed."

Munday said that the operations manager, Chad Johnson,who had been with Waste Management for four years, was dismissed after he tried to intervene on her behalf.

Johnson, of Silver Spring,said yesterday that he was transferred from the Temple Hills to the Elkridge office a week after Munday returned to work, and had been put in charge of re-training her and of "keeping the lines of communication" open between her and the company. Although he was not privy to the terms of the April settlement, he soon sensed that something was wrong.

When her pay rate came up short, Johnson said "that sent upa red flag to me . . . that somebody wasn't holding up their end of the deal." He was also concerned about her benefits.

Johnson said he'd always enjoyed working for Waste Management, but he feared that if the company was found breaking the agreement, he would be held responsible. So, he called the regional manager in Upper Marlboro, Prince George's County, to ask that someone, preferably a company lawyer, check on compliance with the settlement. A week later, Bohager told him he would be dismissed if he did not resign.

"If I'd been named in a discrimination suit and been given a second chance, I'd be on top of things," said Johnson. "I'd make sure every 'T' was crossed and every 'I' was dotted."

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