City housing employee pursues complaint in harassment case EEOC backs allegations of advances by superior, inaction by bosses

April 10, 1996|By Robert Guy Matthews | Robert Guy Matthews,SUN STAFF

When Dianne Hunter told her bosses at the Housing Authority of Baltimore City that she was being sexually harassed by a male superior, she thought the advances would finally end. But she said the bosses ignored her and the harassment continued.

Last year, she filed a complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and in February the organization sided with her.

But since then, housing authority officials have taken no action on the EEOC's finding and say they will bring in their attorneys to fight the allegations.

Though EEOC officials wouldn't comment on the case, they said that generally in similar cases they would seek a meeting with the employer and try to work out an agreement that could include a cash settlement. Such cases occasionally end up in U.S. District Court.

The conflict pits Mrs. Hunter against the superior, Bradley Alston, who she alleges sexually harassed her from the summer of 1994 to the end of that year.

"For almost two years I have suffered and I have been treated unfairly because I wouldn't go to bed with somebody," Mrs. Hunter said recently. "It's just not fair. I'm going to keep fighting this."

Mrs. Hunter, a drill team instructor at a city recreation center, claims that Mr. Alston, a special projects supervisor, rubbed against her, tried to coerce her into meeting him at a hotel and called her at home several times a night.

Mr. Alston, along with other housing authority officials, declined to comment in detail about the charges. "The charges are absolutely groundless and I have placed full faith in the justice system," he said in a statement issued by a housing authority spokesman.

Mrs. Hunter said she first told Mr. Alston to stop in June 1994. She said that when that didn't happen, she appealed to the recreation center supervisor, George Cornick. He told her to move up the chain of command to another supervisor, Macy Holley, she said.

When nothing happened, she said that in September she told Thelma Millard, director of Family Support Services. Ms. Millard "starting laughing and said, 'Child, you should be flattered,' " Mrs. Hunter said. "After that I just kind of suffered in silence because I didn't have anybody else to tell."

Ms. Millard removed Mr. Alston as Mrs. Hunter's supervisor in February 1995.

But Mrs. Hunter said she was ordered to document every minute of her on-duty time -- though no other employee had to do the same.

She said she believes she was singled out in retaliation for her allegations.

Mrs. Hunter filed a complaint with the commission last April. In February, the commission issued a determination in Mrs. Hunter's favor:

"An analysis of the evidence and witness testimony corroborated [Mrs. Hunter's] version that she was sexually harassed and subjected to a sexually hostile work environment [Housing authority] officials, although aware, took no action and the harassment continued until [Mrs. Hunter] filed an internal harassment complaint."

Pub Date: 4/10/96

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