Two former employees are suing Oak Park Village Hall, claiming that their boss sexually harassed them for months, leading to their eventual resignation.
Filed Dec. 5 in federal court, the suit alleges that Robert Anderson “abused, harassed and belittled” two of his employees, beginning shortly after he was hired in February 2010. They allege that he would stare at their breasts and buttocks, sit in front of the printer with his legs spread open, and hold inappropriate conversations about sex scenes in the movie 9½ Weeks.
“Anderson’s behavior and staring has created an extremely hostile working environment,” the complaint states.
The charges are leveled by Lina Wert, a former secretary, and Annie Hayes, a clerk, both in the Adjudication Department that Anderson still oversees. Both women resigned from their positions in October 2010, according to the lawsuit, which the village confirmed.
Their attorney — LeeAnn Crow, with Chicago-based James J. Roche & Associates — did not return calls or emails seeking comment.
Anderson was hired to head the department in February 2010, after previously working as a judge for Oak Park’s adjudication program and arbitrator for the Better Business Bureau. The in-house court system hears local cases on everything from parking tickets to citations for overflowing dumpsters.
Reached last week, Anderson deferred comment to the village’s spokesman, David Powers, who confirmed that the village had been served with the suit, but declined to comment further.
“We really can’t comment on pending litigation, beyond saying that we’ll vigorously defend the village’s position,” Powers said.
Before filing the complaint, Hayes and Wert had brought their concerns before the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which dismissed the charges in both cases. They also reportedly asked the village’s Human Resources Department to halt Anderson’s actions and limit the time that the supervisor could spend around his subordinates, which they say never happened.
Wert and Hayes, who were hired in 2003 and 2006 respectively, leveled a number of other accusations in the 13-page complaint, including that Anderson unjustly threatened and criticized the two, threw papers at Wert in front of customers, and asked Hayes questions about her boyfriend. In other instances, Anderson allegedly asked Hayes to kill citations written against his friends, and to fill his timesheet with fraudulent hours that he did not work.
“Hayes became so uncomfortable with Anderson’s hostile and harassing conduct that she requested other employees to come in the main office so she would not have to be alone with Anderson,” according to the complaint.
Hayes and Wert are seeking payment from the village for their attorney fees and lost wages, in addition to damages stemming from their “emotional pain, suffering, inconvenience, mental anguish and loss of enjoyment of life” because of the alleged mistreatment. Their attorney does not cite a specific dollar figure in the complaint.
The village has until Feb. 2 to respond to the two former employees’ charges, according to court records.
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