Former Ricoh USA Employee Lawsuit Alleges Harassment, Discrimination – and Forced Pagan Ritual
We’ve seen plenty of lawsuits in the imaging industry over the years – mostly involving patent infringement – but a $2.3 million lawsuit filed by a former Ricoh USA employee makes some unusual allegations.
According to The Virginian-Pilot, former Ricoh USA employee Patricia Lindsey, who joined the company in 2008, said she suffered from discriminatory treatment for more than seven years before she was fired in November 2016.
Lindsey says she suffered unwanted sexual advances from a boss, demeaning comments about gender and heritage, and forced participation in a “pagan ritual” intended to “exorcise demons from the workplace.” Lindsey filed her lawsuit late last month in U.S. District Court in Norfolk (Virginia).
John Greco, a Ricoh USA spokesman, said Ricoh denies the allegations and will fight them in court.
“Ricoh has very strong anti-discrimination and anti-harassment policies and offers employees multiple ways to report any inappropriate behavior,” he said in an email. “The company does not tolerate discrimination or harassment of any kind.”
According to the 26-page complaint, Lindsey began working for Ricoh in June 2008, and her problems began a year later when she was appointed new supervisor, Robert Staton.
According to The Virginia-Pilot:
“In explicit detail, the lawsuit alleges that Staton repeatedly solicited sexual favors from Lindsey and then retaliated against her when she said no and reported him to Human Resources. It was one of more than 10 such reports she made, the suit said.
It also said that in June 2009, Lindsey politely asked Staton to stop using abusive language while speaking with her, and he told her to stop talking back to him: ‘A woman should never speak to a man like that.’
Mr. Staton further stated that he did not have time for Ms. Lindsey’s objections to his conduct and Ms. Lindsey needed to listen to him and do as he says ‘because he is a man and she was only a woman,” the lawsuit said.”
In September 2015, Lindsey was appointed a new supervisor, Pamela Vanover, who allegedly told Lindsey, who is a Native American, the reason the “Indians lost to the cowboys is because you were stupid.”
Linsdey’s lawsuit alleges that things began to get over more bizarre, when, in August 2016 in Ricoh’s offices, Vanover is said to have instructed Lindsey to participate in a pagan ritual involving burning sage. Although Lindsey declined, Vanover is said to have proceeded:
“Ms. Vanover entered with a rolled-up bundle of sage wrapped in Wiccan twine and stated, ‘I will be performing a Ritual today. I am exercising (sic) demons out of this place….Patty and I are exercising demons,’ ” the lawsuit said, explaining that Vanover then approached Lindsey and pointed the sage at her face when she protested.
The lawsuit states that Lindsey was fired “for failing to report an incident the prior month involving an employee who made a threat, but that was just a pretext. The suit said the firing was retaliation for the complaints Lindsey filed with HR over the years.”