Utah Woman Alleges Boss Relentlessly Badgered Her For Sex

Utah transit worker says she was sexually harassed. Ever since Anita Hill publicly accused her former boss Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment and he flatly denied the charges, workers' sexual harassment complaints have been common -- and much disputed. Traci Endow, a maintenance worker for the Utah Transit Authority (UTA), however, says that her case isn't ambiguous, accusing her former supervisor of being an egregious sexual predator and management having a "boys-will-be-boys" attitude, citing her managers' words.

In the lawsuit she filed last week, and was first reported on by the Salt Lake City Tribune, she says Brett DeMille began harassing her soon after she began working beside him in 2009. In spring 2011, he became her boss, and the sexual demands allegedly escalated immediately. As Courthouse News reports:

"In spring 2011, defendant DeMille was promoted and became plaintiff's immediate supervisor. Later that same day, defendant DeMille instructed plaintiff to join him in a private, windowless room in the basement. There he exposed [himself] and asked plaintiff, 'What do you think of that?' Plaintiff responded: "I think you should put it away," and she left the room."

Unfazed, DeMille continued to pressure Endow until she gave in, she says.

She admits to having sexual intercourse with him on 16 occasions, according to her lawsuit.The sexual acts often took place at UTA worksites but also on the grounds of the UTA itself. Agreeing to sexual acts does not necessarily preclude a sexual harassment claim, according to legal experts. DeMille, however, has denied that he ever sexually harassed Endow. Endow sued both DeMille and UTA seeking $500,000 in damages. DeMille, for his part, has not spoken to the press. In court documents, he has denied the sexual harassment charges.

UPDATE August 14, 2013 10:20 am: A spokesman for the UTA emailed a statement noting that the UTA investigated her claims. UTA's statement didn't make clear what the results of the investigation were, except that it said the accused "adamantly denies all allegations" and "by policy and practice, there is no tolerance for unlawful or inappropriate behavior, at any level" at the UTA.

Endow's "work assignments did improve... once [she] began having sexual relations with" DeMille, according to the lawsuit. She says she was reassigned from trash clean-up, pulling and trimming weeds, and TRAX station cleaning - "jobs she and her coworkers severely disliked" - to operating heavy machinery, according to the lawsuit.

Nevertheless, her lawsuit depicts DeMille as a predator:

DeMille exhibited considerable sexual aggression toward [Endow], including touching her sexually and cupping his genitals through his clothing while making comments like 'see what you do to me' and ' just can't help it.' [Endow] repeatedly expressed to Defendant DeMille that she was not interested in a relationship and asked him to stop his behavior.

Endow only decided to formally take action against DeMille last year. In July of that year she filed a complaint with the UTA, which a month later closed the case. The reason? The decision was "based solely on the fact the accused parties ... denied any sexual harassment had occurred," as her complaint puts it.

Endow's complaint describes other UTA managers as unsympathetic to her situation. Toby Diaz, the director of human resources for UTA, told her to expect a 'boys will be boys" environment when working with mostly men, according to her complaint. Her experience confiding in another supervisor, Frank Cosens, was equally frustrating for Endow. According to her lawsuit, her told her should just reply to DeMille by saying, "yours is bigger. It may require batteries, but it's bigger." (Cosens is also named as a defendant in the lawsuit.)

According to AOL Jobs blogger and employment lawyer Donna Ballman, Endow's charge would represent what's known as a "quid pro quo" sexual harassment case. As opposed to the more common "hostile work environment" cases, these cases can qualify as "sexual harassment" if the plaintiff can prove the "harasser demanded sexual favors in exchange for job perks," Ballman wrote via e-mail. Regardless, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission does say it's "more difficult" for workers to win their sexual harassment cases if they "willingly" participated in the acts.

For her part, Endow is described in her complaint as having reached a breaking point in July of last year. She took a leave from absence from work, because "the stress of engaging in an unwanted sexual relationship... caused [her] to develop severe depression and alcoholism."

She's since returned to the UTA but has been "assigned exclusively to pulling weeds, running a string trimmer along the track lines, and cleaning stations," according to the complaint.

In an e-mail to AOL Jobs, her attorney, Earl Webster, said she's been "prevented from taking various training and certification courses mandatory for her advancement in the company." But she's decided to say on the job because she "refuses to let her harassers win," according to Webster.

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