Female mechanic was sexually harassed, hit by truck at Kansas freight yard: lawsuit

Five things to know about sexual harassment in the workplace

A new law that took effect in August makes companies, not individuals, liable for misconduct alleged in lawsuits. “You can sue the company but you can’t sue the harasser.”
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A new law that took effect in August makes companies, not individuals, liable for misconduct alleged in lawsuits. “You can sue the company but you can’t sue the harasser.”

A former employee at a Spring Hill freight yard faced sexual harassment so severe that she no longer felt comfortable using the restroom at work and was once hit with a trailer by a co-worker, according to a recently filed lawsuit.

The woman dealt with sexual harassment from the time she started work as the the only female diesel mechanic in Spring Hill for Moore Freight Service in 2011, according to the lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for Kansas.

Moore Freight was bought by Daseke Inc. in 2016 while the woman still worked there.

Throughout her employment, the woman was regularly harassed and demeaned by her supervisor and coworkers who regularly called her a “bitch,” a “lazy ass” and “too stupid,” according to the suit.

When she stood up for herself, the suit says, her co-workers said she was throwing a “temper tantrum.” Her supervisor allegedly refused to allow her to attend training sessions to build her skills.

“The Freight Yard operated as a ’boys club’ where male employees did and said whatever they wanted without fear of repercussions,” the lawsuit said.

The Star generally does not name victims of sexual harassment without their permission. Daseke Inc. declined to comment on the suit.

According to the lawsuit, after the woman had been working at the freight yard for two years she received her first raise. Shortly afterward she trained a new employee, the suit says. While training the employee she learned that his starting pay was the same as her current pay.

She also was not paid the additional $2 per hour she was entitled to for training an employee, according to the suit.

When she asked for a raise, the suit says, she was told that she “did not work enough to justify another raise.”

The woman complained to human resources.

After she complained, the harassment got worse, according to the lawsuit. Her supervisor allegedly either ignored her when she asked questions or told her she was too stupid.

She continued to be harassed by co-workers, one of whom referred to her as the “grouchy bitch” and she was publicly berated by her supervisor regularly, according to the suit.

In once instance, a driver at the freight yard backed his trailer into her after becoming angry that she was not servicing his truck fast enough, according to the suit.

The suit claims that the driver was never disciplined for his actions.

Noticing how she was treated by her co-workers the suit says, a driver once told her “maybe you should lose your boobs, and grow a penis.”

Starting in February 2018, the suit says, the woman’s co-workers began to make disparaging remarks every time she went to the bathroom at work. They would comment that it was “her time of the month” or that she was going to call her boyfriend.

Eventually the woman stopped drinking water at work so that she wouldn’t need to use the restroom, the suit says.

She reported the harassment to Daseke’s maintenance manager in March, according to the suit, but he told her that “it was a guy thing, and to let it go.”

In April the woman’s supervisor was fired for sexually harassing a female driver, the suit says.

That same month, the suit says, the woman reported the harassment from her co-workers to human resources.

The human resources representative tried to talk her out of filing a complaint and did not conduct an investigation, the suit says.

Less than two weeks after she filed her complaint, the suit says, the woman was fired for insubordination relating to an earlier incident in which she didn’t do what a co-worker asked her to.

The woman is suing Moore Freight Service and Daseke Inc. for sexual harassment, discrimination, and retaliation.

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Katie Bernard covers Kansas crime, cops and courts for the Kansas City Star. She joined the Star in May of 2019. Katie studied journalism and political science at the University of Kansas.