Gay man sues for workplace sexual assault

Photo: courtesy

An Allentown man recently filed suit against his former employers, claiming that because he is openly gay, they failed to take action against co-workers who sexually and physically assaulted him.

“John Doe,” 29, worked at Fragrance Manufacturing Inc. in Allentown as a warehouse laborer from Jan. 5, 2020 to Feb. 20, 2020. The company manufactures perfume products for distribution across the country. Doe obtained the job through an employment agency known as Lyneer Staffing Solutions LLC, based in Ewing, N.J.

According to Doe’s lawsuit, soon after he began working at Fragrance Manufacturing, a co-worker slapped him so hard on his buttocks that it left visible marks on his buttocks. A few days later, the co-worker once again slapped Doe directly on the buttocks but did not leave a mark. A few days later, the same co-worker “sexually assaulted Doe by physically grabbing onto his penis against Doe’s consent,” the lawsuit states.

The co-worker also hurled slurs at Doe including “fa–ot,” “f-g,” and “maricon,” which is a Spanish slur for a gay man. Moreover, the co-worker told Doe, “I am going to rape you in the parking lot,” according to the lawsuit.

Doe verbally complained to a supervisor at Fragrance Manufacturing, who did not take corrective action. Doe also lodged a written complaint with the Human Resources Department, which also did not take corrective action, according to the lawsuit.

“After Doe complained about the assaults, they still did not stop, and Doe was violently pinned in a corner by a group of male employees — and [a co-worker] threatened that the group would ‘beat your a–,’” according to the lawsuit. 

On Feb. 20, Doe quit his employment because of the alleged workplace assaults and lack of corrective measures by either Fragrance Manufacturing or Lyneer Staffing Solutions, according to the lawsuit.

On April 13, Doe filed a 20-page lawsuit against Lyneer Staffing Solutions and Fragrance Manufacturing in Lehigh County Common Pleas Court. He alleges both companies are liable for assault, battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress and negligence for not taking corrective action on his behalf.

Doe’s lawsuit claims the reason the companies failed to take any corrective action was due to his sexual orientation. “Defendants took no action because Doe is a gay man,” the lawsuit alleges. “Defendants acted with an evil motive and reckless indifference to Doe’s rights and are therefore subject to punitive damages.”

Doe is seeking more than $50,000 in damages, including lost wages, bonuses and benefits; compensatory damages for physical pain and emotional distress; punitive damages; reasonable attorney’s fees; and an injunction requiring that defendants terminate or discipline Doe’s assailants. 

Lehigh County Common Pleas Judge James T. Anthony has been assigned to the case. A jury trial has been requested. 

Justin F. Robinette, an attorney for Doe, said his client endured unlawful workplace violence. “My client was sexually assaulted by a co-worker multiple times because he’s gay. He reported it to multiple people yet there was no accountability. He was thoroughly humiliated by the situation, which caused severe trauma. This lawsuit is attempting to secure justice, which is something he has never been provided.”

Spokespersons for Lyneer Staffing Solutions and Fragrance Manufacturing couldn’t be reached for comment.