Better Business Bureau accused of harassment

March 21, 1995|By Jay Apperson | Jay Apperson,Sun Staff Writer

A Towson woman filed suit yesterday against the Better Business Bureau of Greater Maryland Inc., accusing the nonprofit organization's president of sexually harassing her and discriminating against her because she is deaf.

JoAnn Bryant, who says she was hired by the organization in 1992 as a bookkeeper and later worked as a membership coordinator, alleges in her lawsuit that President Philip Kershner and other employees taunted her about her disability. She also says Mr. Kershner repeatedly kissed and fondled her over her objections -- allegations that he denies.

"We deny, of course, any of these charges," said Mr. Kershner, who is also named as a defendant in the lawsuit filed in Baltimore Circuit Court. He declined to comment further.

Ms. Bryant says she was demoted to file clerk last year in retaliation for filing disability discrimination complaints with state and federal authorities.

Ms. Bryant's suit asks for unspecified damages and a court order to restore her to a job in keeping with her experience. Beth Pepper, the attorney who filed the suit on Ms. Bryant's behalf, said: "Here is a company that should set an example for the rest of the employers of America . . . and instead has a president and other members of a senior management team that have subjected this woman to harassment, and disgrac[ed] her and caus[ed] her pain and suffering because of her hearing loss and because of her sex."

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