Corporate Accountability and WorkPlace  
comments_image Comments

Sexual Harassment is Still Rampant in American Workplaces

An emerging case of extreme harassment reveals the sorry state of offices for many women.
 
 
Share
 

A California Medicaid group is under fire for blatant and repeated problems with sexual harassment. One woman is suing Gold Coast Health Plan over claims so horrible she says the resulting anxiety made her vomit. Here’s the kicker: Gold Coast is a public entity that administers Medicaid for over 100,000 Ventura County beneficiaries.

Examining the insurance group’s office culture provides a stark reminder of the awful state of America’s workplaces—where one-in-four women experience sexual harassment.

Audra Lucas says Gold Coast CEO Earl Greenia, grabbed her, put his foot up her skirt and demanded she call him “boss and sir,” among a slew of other allegations. Lucas says she endured this harassment for more than a year out of fear of losing her job.

In one particularly disturbing incident, Greenia cornered Lucas in a bookstore, “came up behind her, pulled her hair, breathed on her and said, 'I know you like it, Secretary.'” In another episode, Greenia turned to Lucas in the elevator and said, “It’s time for your spanking,” before smacking her buttocks.

As it turns out, this isn’t the first time Gold Coast has faced sexual harassment charges. In December 2012, the company was accused of firing several employees for blowing the whistle on sexual harassment and mismanagement of $1 million of public money.

Former Gold Coast HR director Candice Limousin says she looked into sexual harassment claims made by two female employees, implicating one of Greenia’s friend Andre Galvan, who is Gold Coast’s Director of Member Services.

Beyond that, Limousin claims she was wrongfully terminated after exposing the company’s alleged waste of public money. In once instance, Limousin says Greenia remarked, “A woman must have picked out the furniture” in the office before ordering her to “purchase new furniture at a cost of $6,000 - $8,000.”

It turns out that Lucas and Limousins’ stories intertwine. Reportedly, Audra Lucas went to Limousin with her sexual harassment claims in February 2012, but didn’t get anywhere. She then brought her complaint to Regional Government Services HR manager Jennifer Bower, who responded, “I can see why this would be exciting to you.” It wasn’t until Lucas showed the HR manager incriminating text messages from Greenia that Bower seemed to believe her.

Courthouse News reports, “Lucas says Greenia's harassment made her emotionally distraught and so physically ill she vomited, eventually causing her to take a leave of absence.”

Last March, Greenia announced his resignation. Not long after, Audra Lucas received a letter saying she was no longer employed by Gold Coast as of August 2012.

Steven Hsieh is an editorial assistant at AlterNet and writer based in Brooklyn. Follow him on Twitter @stevenjhsieh.