Yesterday, the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts held that a reasonable jury could find that Palmer Fire District Number One, Palmer Water District Number One, and two public officials (collectively “Palmer Fire and Water”) subjected former employee Lisa Koss to a sexually hostile work environment and then retaliated against her when she complained about the sexual harassment she experienced.
Koss alleges that her former supervisor, William Cole, sexually harassed her. Among other things, he allegedly leered and stared at her in a sexual manner while making comments such as “I wish I had somebody like you at home…baby I could make your head spin.” He allegedly made other crude sexual comments to her as well, such as when Koss was eating a banana Cole said, with a smirk on his face, “I’ve never seen anybody eat a banana like you before.” On another occasion, Cole allegedly grabbed Koss’s shirt and tried to look down it to see if she was wearing a bra. Other instances of sexual harassment occurred in the workplace as well between 2008 and August 2012, when Koss stopped working for Palmer Fire and Water.
Koss complained to Palmer Fire and Water management about Cole’s sexual harassment and she alleges that management retaliated against her because of her complaint. After Koss filed her sexual harassment complaint, her hours were cut by more than half and she was later fired.