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Lawsuit claims fired worker not 'team player'

January 24, 1998

Lawsuit claims fired worker not 'team player'

By CLYDE FORD

Staff Writer

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - A Royal Vendors worker who alleges he witnessed the sexual harassment of a female co-worker filed a lawsuit Friday claiming he was fired for not being a "team player" in defending the company against her lawsuit.

In his lawsuit, David Brackett Jr. said he witnessed the sexual harassment of Vicki Rhodes and attempted to stop it.

The suit names Royal Vendors, Director of Personnel Robert Kutcher and Supervisor Mark High as defendants.

Kutcher said he had not seen the lawsuit and declined to comment on it.

Brackett was fired on Tuesday from the company, according to the lawsuit.

"The alleged reason given by the defendants for the plaintiff's termination was a pretext for the defendants' true motivation, their unlawful reprisal against the plaintiff for his opposition to the sexual harassment of Vicki Rhodes, his aid and assistance to her in opposing their unlawful acts and practices, and his refusal to lie on behalf of the defendants as a 'team player,'" the lawsuit said.

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Rhodes had left the company on Dec. 5 and filed a lawsuit on Dec. 17 claiming she resigned because she had repeatedly been the subject of unwanted sexual advances from co-workers and her immediate supervisor.

She reported the incidents but no disciplinary action was taken and no steps were taken to correct the situation, according to Brackett's lawsuit.

After she left, High, also a defendant in Rhodes' lawsuit, and his immediate supervisor Tom Hartley began to retaliate against Brackett for reporting and complaining on the sexual harassment, according to the lawsuit filed Friday.

On Jan. 19, Brackett attended a meeting with Kutcher and the company vice president, Greg Johnson, according to the lawsuit.

Johnson assured Brackett that he would not be terminated, according to the lawsuit.

Kutcher then asked for Brackett to recount what he knew of the sexual harassment of Rhodes, the lawsuit said.

Brackett told them of the numerous incidents he witnessed and Kutcher then said he wanted to know if Brackett was a "team player," the lawsuit said.

Kutcher asked Brackett to tell Rhodes that if she dropped her lawsuit and went back to work at Royal Vendors, the company would "take care of the people who harassed her" and "make it worth her while," the lawsuit said.

Kutcher also said that he wanted to keep her lawyer out of it, the lawsuit said. Her attorney, Harry Waddell, also is representing Brackett in his lawsuit.

Kutcher then asked Brackett for a written statement about what occurred to Rhodes, the lawsuit said.

The next day, Tuesday, Brackett gave Kutcher a letter describing what he had witnessed of the sexual harassment, the lawsuit said.

"After reading the letter, Kutcher's face became visibly red," according to the lawsuit.

Kutcher then turned to his computer and said "Let's see how many points you've got," the lawsuit said. Employees are dismissed if they have six points in 90 days. Brackett had 2.5 before Kutcher started his search through the personnel records, the lawsuit said.

By the end of the day, Hartley informed Brackett that he had "pointed out" and was being terminated, the lawsuit said.

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