East Palestine company sued over alleged harassment

LISBON – An East Palestine woman claiming she was forced to endure several acts of sexual harassment in the workplace is among two people listed on a lawsuit filed in Columbiana County Common Pleas Court this week against JaSar Recycling Inc. and the company’s human resource manager.

Court documents state the woman worked for eight years at JaSar, an East Palestine business on Edgeworth Avenue, before she was terminated on Nov. 2. Additionally another former employee named in the lawsuit, Matthew Goins, Eells Street, Rogers, worked there for two years and was let go on the same date.

The lawsuit claims the woman was sexually harassed by Christopher Toy, who was serving as the human resource manager. The two former employees claim they were let go after complaining about Toy’s alleged wrongful behavior.

In one part of the lawsuit, the woman claimed on Oct. 8, Toy made sexually suggestive gestures and suggestions, then tried to physically force her into a compromising position after telling her to follow him into a warehouse on business he said was work related. She was able to get free and run.

The lawsuit continues to claim the woman reported what happened to one of her supervisors, James Flowers, who is also her boyfriend. But the company did not investigate her claim.

Additionally she claims about three days later Toy approached her, making harassing comments on several occasions until the woman asked other employees to not leave her alone when Toy was around. Again the issue was reported to Flowers, who took it to two supervisors and finally the owner of the company, Ed McNee.

Still the lawsuit claims nothing was done other than McNee reportedly telling Flowers to “tell him to stop.”

The lawsuit alleges Toy began to engage in retaliatory efforts after learning about the woman’s complaints. On about Oct. 23, Toy allegedly wrote her up for an alleged performance issue. He is also accused of telling Goins to sabotage her job by suggesting he “put weed in her car” or “take her to lunch and make her late to work.” The lawsuit even claims Goins was offered a raise if he helped Toy get the woman fired.

Goins, Flowers and the woman took their complaint again to management on Oct. 29 and a meeting was called. JaSar’s attorney reportedly attended the meeting, where the woman was questioned about her allegations. Both the woman and Goins were let go following the meeting, while Toy was reportedly not disciplined or terminated.

The lawsuit alleges a hostile work environment based on sexual harassment, retaliatory termination, wrongful termination in violation of public policy and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

The two former employees not only are requesting they be rehired, but their personnel files be expunged of any negative documents. Additionally, they are asking for the company to implement sexual harassment policy changes and train the staff in the proper way to deal with such issues. The lawsuit seeks the removal or demotion of Toy and all supervisors who did not investigate the complaints.

Finally, the lawsuit seeks in excess of $25,000 for lost wages, emotional distress and an additional excess of $25,000 in punitive damages against each defendant.