A federal jury handed down a unanimous verdict in a sexual harassment case that awarded over $20 million to eight former employees of Four Amigos Travel and Top Dog Travel.
Four Amigos Travel and Top Dog Travel are high volume telemarketers of vacation packages based in the Florida cities of Largo, Orlando, and Ft. Lauderdale. In 2009, Top Dog Travel merged its operations with Four Amigos Travel.
Kathleen Snow and Anne Patricia Matacchiero worked as telemarketers at the company’s Largo office in 2008. Snow and Matacchiero claim they were subjected to a sexually hostile work environment by company owner Ronald Schlom, general manager Derek May, and sales managers William Howell, Rob Birkfield, Ed Arneau, Christopher Avitable, James Blake, Mike Maar, Ritchie Sandberg, and Rob Tennell.
The two women allege that these bad bosses sexually harassed them on an almost daily basis by subjecting them to “frequent, unwelcome, pervasive, and severe sexual behavior, comments and touching including, but not limited to, the following acts:
a. Daily sales meetings conducted by General Manager May and/or Sales Managers were sexually charged and General Manager May often engaged in and encouraged sexually explicit discussions on topics including, but not limited to, “how to please a woman;”
b. Sales Managers grabbed their groins and danced sexually;
c. Howell regularly called female employees by derogatory terms like “bitches” or “dumb;”
d. Howell approached a female employee on the telephone from behind her, displayed a picture of an erect penis on his cell phone, and asked “impressive, aren’t I?;”
e. Howell approached female employees from behind and touched their hair or body, tried to grab the buttocks of female employees and pushed his body against a female employee’s buttocks while saying “that was what I needed;”
f. Howell told female employees how “hot” they were and that they should “fool around with him” and have sex with him. For example, Howell told female employees that they “should go to the bathroom” where he [Howell] would “bend [them] over the toilet” and offered to pay $100 for sex;
g. Howell, Birkfield and Avitable regularly simulated sex acts and “humped” the floor, walls, chairs, and people in front of female employees, and while female employees were on the phone with customers. On one occasion, when told to stop by a female employe, Howell attempted to straddle her and sit on her lap;
h. Howell and Birkfield made vulgar comments about the physical attributes of female employees such as “how nice [their] ass[es]” were;
i. On numerous occasions, Birkfield physically grabbed the breasts or buttocks of female employees;
j. Birkfield simulated sex with female employees;
k. Sandburg made vulgar remarks to female employees including, but not limited to, that a female had a “pretty mouth… and [he] would like to see it around [his] cock” or, putting his knee between a female employee’s legs and looking at her crotch, that “you look good enough to eat;” and
l. Arneau and Blake simulated holding a penis and performing oral sex acts.
According to the complaint, Birkfield also asked Snow “sexually demeaning questions, including but not limited to whether she and her daughter would have a ‘threesome’ with him.”
Snow and Matacchiero claim that they complained about the sexual harassment to management both verbally and in writing. According to the EEOC, their complaints were ignored and the hostile work environment continued.
On one occasion on September 17, 2008, after Matacchiero handed a written complaint to Howell, Howell allegedly threw the complaint in the trash. Later that day, May allegedly called a meeting of all employees and told them that if “anyone had a complaint about Four Amigo’s management [they] should write it down and go to gofuckyourself.com.”
Other managers allegedly told the women that if they “didn’t like it [they] could go home” and “not to take it so seriously.”
Snow, who began working at Four Amigos Travel in April 2008, was forced to resign on June 3, 2008. Matacchiero started working at the company in February 2008 and was forced to resign on September 21, 2008 to escape the sexually hostile work environment.
EEOC attorney Gregory Lee McClinton said, “This was a long journey for these women who were forced to work under unspeakable conditions at this workplace. Their testimony about how the sexual harassment occurred and how it affected their lives was very powerful.”