Michelle Thurman (“Ms. Thurman”) a customer support agent formerly employed by Aerotek Inc. (“Aerotek”) and American Honda Motor Co., Inc., (“Honda”) is claiming that she faced constant sexual harassment from her supervisor and was then fired for reporting said harassment. In her complaint, filed on January 29, 2021, Ms. Thurman claims that Wayne Brown (“Brown”) her “Team Lead” regularly sexually harassed her between December 2019 and July 2020. She submitted numerous complaints to Human Resources, was ignored, and subsequently fired.
In the lawsuit, Ms. Thurman states that Brown consistently followed her around the office, to her cubicle, to the lunchroom, and even to her car in the parking lot. He was “lying in wait for Ms. Thurman at every turn” in order to stare and lust after her at her at any and every opportunity. To avoid these unsolicited interactions, Ms. Thurman would have to pretend to be on the phone, or talk to a nearby co-worker, and would even be forced to retreat and hide in the bathroom when she saw him approaching.
According to the lawsuit, on many occasions, Brown would go to Thurman’s desk, and lean towards her over back of her chair and ask for her direct phone number. On May 22, 2020, Brown approached Ms. Thurman’s cubicle and “leaned in towards [Thurman’s] face as close as he could, and whispered ‘Good morning, Michelle.'”
The lawsuit also alleges that in May of 2020, Ms. Thurman formally reported this harassment to Verna Rodriguez (“Rodriguez”), a Human Resources representative, and requested that she be reassigned to a different team. Although Ms. Thurman was reassigned, members of Brown’s team still sat near her, giving Brown the perfect opportunity to continue harassing Ms. Thurman.
The lawsuit further alleges that Holly Muhammad (“Muhammad”), a Regional Manager for Honda, saw Brown harassing Ms. Thurman, and instructed Aerotek to move Ms. Thurman’s cubicle. However, this only emboldened Brown. When he noticed that Ms. Thurman was not at her former cubicle, Brown “stalked throughout the call center to find [Ms. Thurman], determined to find her new cubicle.” Ms. Thurman reported this to Rodriguez and to Aerotek’s Human Resources representative Catherine Wearp (“Wearp”).
Between December 2019 and July 2020, Ms. Thurman made over ten (10) complaints to Human Resources about Brown’s inappropriate conduct. Despite these repeated complaints, Ms. Thurman was told that “[Brown] has not been told to avoid [Ms. Thurman],” according to the lawsuit.
The complaint also alleges that, on July 23, 2020, Ms. Thurman went to the breakroom to make a personal phone call. When she looked up from her phone, Brown was staring at her through the breakroom window. The next day, Ms. Thurman took immediate leave from her position with Honda. Brown’s harassment was so severe and pervasive that Ms. Thurman “could no longer bear the anxiety and stress” it caused.
Ms. Thurman remained on leave until Wearp emailed her that her assignment with Honda had been terminated, effectively ending her employment, the lawsuit further states.
Ms. Thurman is represented by attorneys Kyle Todd and Troy R. Candiotti, of Kyle Todd, P.C. Requests for comment can be directed to attorney Todd at (323) 208-9171.