A leading resource for evaluating potential employers
Thursday March 30th 2017



EEOC sexual harassment lawsuit filed against Ashlan Village Retirement Community

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against the Ashlan Village Retirement Community in Lyman, South Carolina.  The EEOC claims that Leah Phyhala, the marketing director at Ashlan Village, was subjected to a sexually hostile work environment by the executive director, Alton Free.

According to the complaint, Free subjected Phyhala to unwelcome e-mails with sexual content, unwelcome touching, daily sexual comments about Pyhala’s breasts and buttocks, and suggestions that he wanted to have sex with her through comments like “I have something for you…it’s eight and half inches long.”

Pyhala, and a coworker, Holly Black, complained to Ashlan Village’s owner regarding the harassment. Pyhala and Black claim that they were then terminated by Free because of their complaints about the sexual harassment.


Got a tip about a bad boss that eBossWatch should feature?  Do you want to expose your toxic boss?  Let us know!  Send us an email at tips@ebosswatch.com

Rate your boss at eBossWatch

EEOC sexual harassment lawsuit filed against Ashlan Village Retirement Community
1 vote, 5.00 avg. rating (97% score)

Reader Feedback

5 Responses to “EEOC sexual harassment lawsuit filed against Ashlan Village Retirement Community”

  1. L J Jones says:

    I am familiar with the about situation and I think that it is a shame that the complaint is posted without full knowlege of the entire situation. The accusers did report to Alton but using the term “work” for him is erroneous. They didn’t work. They were not there much of the time and when there arrived late, and basically spent much of their time making his job miserable. I, along with another employee was approached to, in their words, “join the team” in getting rid or Alton. Her game plan was to get rid of Alton so Holly could be the E.D. and they wouldn’t have to work for sure.

    I did not see it but I think he did send a joke email to one of them by mistake. I did overhear him apologizing for it and her response was “don’t worry about it,that was funny and I sent it to my friend Boo”.

    Alton only presented their work history to the owners and they forced him to fire them, and for their attendance and performance only. They vowed to get him back and evidently they succeeded.

    He has been turned down for two positions that he should have had due to this situation and this website.

    He is the finest man I have EVER worked for. I know several who have been in close working situations with him and we all agree he has been nothing but a gentleman. We even wrote letters of support stating that to the EEOC to no avail. And if you polled all employees who have worked for him you will find the same responses, except of course from the two accusers.

    This is a good website and my company uses it also. But at times we don’t get to see the entire picture which sometimes makes a difference.

    Thank you

  2. Pam Perry says:

    I worked very closely with Mr. Free during employment as Business Office Manager at Ashlan Village. Never did I witness any actions on his part that could be misconstrued as anything other than exhibiting the utmost respect, dignity and professionalism.

    I personally know of two employees that had it “out” for Mr. Free and did anything and everything in their power to try to destroy his creditability and integrity. Many false accusations were manufactured by these individuals. I was often around Mr. Free and these two employees and he always handled himself with the same respect and professionalism. The same behavior was noted when Mr. Free and I went out on business calls together. In my opinion, all allegations were false and fabricated in an attempt to destroy Mr. Free and further their positions in the company.

    I would greatly welcome the opportunity to work with Mr. Free in the future. Anyone who does so would appreciate his kind, caring nature while he maintains professionalism.

  3. Audrea Jones says:

    I am writing this on behalf of Mr. Alton Free who was Executive Director for Ashlan Village. I began my employment with Ashlan Village on Jan 13 2008. I was warmly welcomed by most of the staff. However I was approached at the facility during work hours with, as Ms Leah Whiting (now Pyhala) phrased it, a chance to “join the team.” She then proceeded to tell me that she was considering actively pursuing a sexual harassment case against Mr. Free. I simply asked her what she meant. She then stated that Ashlan Village had done her wrong and she was going to “Let him have it.” I had no idea what she was referring to as Mr. Free has always behaved in a professional manner and never displayed any inappropriate behavior. As a woman in the work place I appreciate and understand the need for appropriate discipline to be given to Sexual Predators in the workplace. However in this situation I am afraid that Mr. Free has fallen victim. I asked Ms. Whiting myself if Mr. Free had ever touched her and she told me no. I then asked why she felt that he had displayed that attention to her. She then again only had the reply she was going to “Let him have it” and since I am a woman they will believe me. I told Ms. Whiting I couldn’t join her for activities outside of the workplace due to my demanding schedule outside of work. Mr. Free and I worked very closely with one another and he never has he made me feel uncomfortable, threatened, or mistreated. After Ms Whiting and Ms Blacks termination I felt harassed personally. There were several phone calls left on my voicemail asking me to give them a call. I didn’t return any of them because I didn’t want to be involved in the matter. I enjoyed my job and felt comfortable. I feel these allegations against Mr. Free are inappropriate and am willing to testify to that. Again, I think Mr. Free has been handed a terrible injustice.

    Audrea A. Jones
    Former Marketing Director
    Ashlan Village Assisted Living Community

  4. B Reagan says:

    Jones and Perry,
    You work for Mr Free that why you support him like a kids with fake witness.
    Mr Free is Evil Doer. He will be fired now or later. It may be take years but he will be in deep legal trouble.
    I have seen my directors were fired in the same stupid and evil sittuation.My company has lost millions dollar and till in trouble.

  5. gone postal says:

    Are you sure Bob Aho wasn’t involved? He can’t tell the truth besides being a low-life snake. Just sayin’…

Leave a Reply