A female former employee filed a hostile work environment and retaliation lawsuit against Cargill on December 18, 2014.
Jamie Lee Christensen was hired by Cargill in October 1993. She claims she was constructively discharged from her employment on November 22, 2013 as a result of being discriminated against because of her sex, being subjected to a hostile environment based on a protected class, and being subjected to retaliation by Defendants after complaining about the hostile work environment.
Christensen made the following allegations in her lawsuit complaint:
Mark Struve, a supervisor at Cargill, made sexual advances toward her while on a business trip and she rejected his advances. In the months following Struve’s sexual advances and her rejection of these advances, Christensen’s job responsibilities changed, and she began to be harassed and retaliated against by Struve and as time passed, it soon escalated into further retaliation harassment, bullying and a hostile work environment.
The atmosphere in the office began to change with belittling and hostility from Struve directed towards Christensen began. The frequency of belittling and reprimands, in front of peers occurred more often, weekly and sometimes multiple times a day.
In approximately 2008, because of the retaliation, harassment, bullying, and hostile work environment, Christensen was forced into making the decision to either leave her employment with Cargill after 15 years of employment or to find another position within the company at a different location. Christensen chose the latter.
Approximately 2 years after Christensen changed her position with Cargill and location of her work, Struve was promoted into a supervisory role within Christensen’s region and again would have influence over her working conditions.
Soon after Struve received his promotion, the retaliation, bullying and harassment began again making Christensen’s work environment hostile.
In February of 2013 Christensen told Doug Fjelland, Facility Manager, of her belief that she was being retaliated, harassed and bullied by Struve. After Fjelland gave Christensen an ultimatum to either disclose why she left her prior position and her reasons for not wanting to work in the same office as Struve, Christensen disclosed the sexual advances made by Struve years prior.
In March of 2013, Christensen was requested to share her story with HR along with details of the retaliation and harassment which Christensen believed was occurring and the individuals names who could collaborate her allegations. No follow up was ever communicated or received from Christensen’s conversation with HR in March of 2013, and the retaliation and harassment continued.
Christensen was forced to turn in her resignation after 20 years of employment on November 1, 2013. Upon Christensen’s resignation, she was informed that her prior communications with HR resulted in no follow up and an investigation was then being opened.
Christensen was asked to continue her employment while the investigation was taking place and asked to provide details of both the past and current retaliation and harassment and was assured that she would be given details of both investigations and details would be given regarding changes to ensure no future harassment or retaliation would occur. She agreed to continue her employment.
After the investigations were completed, Christensen was denied details of the findings of the investigations and was told that Struve would continue his employment. Christensen was also denied details of how Cargill was going to ensure the retaliation and harassment would cease so Christensen felt she had no other recourse than to terminate her employment with Cargill.
Christensen left her employment with Cargill on November 22, 2013 as a result of being discriminated against because of her sex, being subjected to a hostile environment based on a protected class, was subjected to retaliation by Defendants after engaging in a protected activity.
Males with less experience with the same role were making more money than Christensen and when Christensen was moved over to the new role as a Personal Marketing Manager, she again was informed that males with less experience were being hired for more than what their female counterparts were making. Christensen was also treated differently that similarly situated males.
Christensen was subjected to retaliation by Defendants because she would not go along with Cargill’s and Struve’s work environment.
This is a report on a civil lawsuit filed at the U.S. District Court. The details in this report come from an original complaint filed by a plaintiff. Please note that a complaint is not an indication of guilt, and it represents only one side of the story.