Employee Complains of Sexual Harassment and Alleged Response Is “Cleaner Break if You Were Just Fired.”


Employee Files Lawsuit against Jewish Community Center for Sex Discrimination

Kelly started working at the Jewish Community Center as a personal trainer and floor staff in April 2016. A year later, she started to feel sexually harassed by a supervisor when he wiggled a banana at her and allegedly asked, “What does this remind you of?” She watched as he repeated his question to the director, who responded that the supervisor’s behavior was inappropriate.

In April 2017, she began working under the supervisor who had sexually harassed her. While she was working as floor staff, Kelly’s supervisor walked up to her and allegedly asked if she knew about “kegels.” Uncomfortable, she asked how this was relevant. According to Kelly, the supervisor replied that it “keeps certain things in shape.” She asked him not to talk about these exercises and reported the incident to the director who promised to speak to the supervisor.

Kelly reported two other incidents where her supervisor sexually harassed other female personal trainers for their shorts. She shared that he made a comment to one, saying, “your ass keeps eating your shorts today.” The comments occurred so often that the women began to feel uneasy about wearing shorts around their supervisor.

After complaining about the ongoing sexual harassment, Kelly suspected that her supervisor was retaliating against her. She faced more scrutiny than other employees, and a new policy was implemented that did not allow floor staff access to the desk computer. When Kelly neared the front desk, her supervisor would allegedly tell her to circulate more, but he allowed male floor staff to sit at the desk and socialize.

Fed up with the treatment, Kelly filed an official complaint of sex discrimination, retaliation and hostile work environment with her employer. An investigation was opened, and Kelly’s hours were cut. When she suggested that this was further proof of retaliation, the director allegedly sent her off with “no one is retaliating against you.” The investigation ended and Kelly’s supervisor was punished with a 1-day suspension, a letter of apology, and a sexual harassment training video.

Kelly sought to be transferred to another department since she still wasn’t receiving hours with her original position. In July, she started working almost full time hours with the customer service department, and Kelly believes that she was being prepared for a full-time position that would start in October. When October arrived, she discovered that a male coworker received the position, and she was moved to a lesser position. Kelly talked to the director about options for her, and he apparently reiterated the conversation to Kelly where a manager had said that it would be a “cleaner break if [she] was just fired.”

In January, Kelly took a leave of absence due to the stress she was experiencing at work, and she has not yet received any new shift options. As a client of KM&A, Kelly seeks her employee rights from the Jewish Community Center. KM&A challenges employers who fail to uphold the law and discriminate and retaliate against employees like Kelly.


Full text of this complaint, as filed with the District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania, is available at docket no: 2:18-cv-01017-CB

Kraemer, Manes & Associates LLC is an employment law firm with principal offices in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, serving all counties in Pennsylvania, focusing on employment law, business law, litigation, and civil issues. KM&A clients include employees, small businesses, parties in litigation, and people with a variety of legal issues.

For more information about this case, contact Attorney Christi Wallace at 412-626-5569 or at cw@lawkm.com.

NOTICE: All information contained in this statement comes from the Complaint which has been filed as a public record with the court. As dedicated civil rights attorneys, we strongly believe in the public value of telling our clients’ stories: violators can be held accountable, and other silent victims can feel empowered to stand up for their legal rights. Although we make every attempt to verify our clients’ claims, note that the defendant is expected to oppose our client’s position, and the court has not ruled one way or the other as of the date of this statement.