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Sexual Assault In The Workplace

Posted on 09/14/2012

In this blog we take a look at the issue of sexual harassment in the workplace. In particular a case in which a company is failing to stop a sexual harassment lawsuit. This story is shocking and might not be sustable for readers under the age of 18.

Maria Felix Soto-Ortiz was employed by a Palo Alto-based glass processing company called eCullet to arrange glass at their Oakland, California facility in August of 2007 with Arturo Terrazes as her supervisor. The glass business is known for collecting broken fragments of glass from waste management teams, cleaning it, sorting it, and sending it to companies who produce glass bottles. The company is headquartered in Palo Alto, CA but also has facilities in Oakland, Seattle, St. Paul, Stanley, NY and San Leandro.

While working under Ms. Terrazes, Soto-Ortiz suffered constant sexual harassment and other abuse by her supervisor. The victim claims the man regularly called her names and groped her. She continually protested to management about the issues, and soon Terrazes was fired.

After Terrazes departure, the company began looking for a new supervisor and sought out Samuel, the brother of Terrazes. After some time Soto-Ortiz states the new supervisor harassed her even more than the previous manager. The victim stated Samuel blamed her for his brother’s lost job and would also blame her for causing trouble at the company.

Soto-Ortiz reported Samuel forcing her to have sex with him 6 times in 2010 or else he would deport her. The victim told management of the rapes and harassments and eventually Samuel was arrested. While waiting for his trial hearing, Samuel fled the area during a temporary release of custody.

A week after the final rape charge, in July of 2010, the woman was forced to go back to work where she was working for yet another new supervisor, Hugo Bernal. Bernal reportedly blamed the woman for Samuel’s arrest and allegedly blew glass particles in the woman’s eyes using a pressurized device. He also supposedly urinated on the floor and forced Soto-Ortiz to clean it up.

Maria Felix Soto-Ortiz is now filing a lawsuit against the glass company for not protecting its female employees from multiple counts of abuse, harassment, and seeking vengeance against supervisors and their employees. She requested the Alameda County Superior Court to help her seek monetary compensation for damages of “severe mental distress” brought on by the company and its employees.

The lawsuit on Tuesday claimed the plaintiff suffered sexual abuse from August 2007 to April 2012 from all three supervisors, one of whom was temporarily arrested. The plaintiff also claimed to be nearly blinded when the supposed glass particles were blown into her eyes. However, when she addressed management about employee issues, she said they claimed they didn’t want lawyers involved.

On Wednesday, Craig London, the company’s CEO, understood he was aware of the lawsuit, but their company had no records of any of this happening.

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