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Lawsuit says UTA employee was required to have sex with boss

Published August 6, 2013 7:43 am

Lawsuit • She said she reported events, was told "boys will be boys."
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

A maintenance worker is suing the Utah Transit Authority in federal court, claiming her supervisor required her to perform sexual favors in exchange for better working conditions and that management ignored her complaints of harassment, saying "boys will be boys."

In a lawsuit filed Monday, Traci Endow claimed that her supervisor, Brett DeMille, had been making sexual gestures, contact and comment toward her since they were coworkers in 2009. Endow rebuffed his advances until 2011, when DeMille was promoted to become her supervisor, the lawsuit states. DeMille allegedly told Endow her work assignments and chances for promotion would improve if she would have sex with him.

"Once [Endow] began having sexual relations with ... DeMille, [Endow's] work assignments did improve," the lawsuit states. Endow was reassigned from trash clean-up, pulling and trimming weeds, and TRAX station cleaning — "jobs she and her coworkers severely disliked" — to operating heavy machinery, according to the lawsuit.

UTA spokeswoman Erika Shubin declined to comment on Monday night. The lawsuit says Endow will "likely require more than $500,000 to be fully compensated" by UTA.

DeMille sought training opportunities for Endow, which previously she had been denied, according to the lawsuit. Endow claimed that in 2011, before DeMille was her supervisor, a manager scheduled mandatory one-on-one equipment training for all of the male employees on the crew but then took the trainer to lunch before Endow, the only woman, could be trained, the suit alleges. The manager, Richard Castleberry, allegedly told Endow, "Life's not fair." Endow did not receive the training until DeMille arranged it, after Endow began performing sexual favors for him, the suit claims.

Endow describes 27 occasions where DeMille engaged in sexual activities with her while at work; in some cases, she alleges, he required sex before he would let her return to work. Endow claimed these sex acts occurred from November 2011 until July 2012 at UTA maintenance shops in Salt Lake and Davis counties, the UTA facilities offices, in the cab of a sweeper truck and in a signal shack near the University of Utah.

"Because of the threat of losing her training and assignment benefits, [Endow] never formally expressed a lack of consent. ... At most, she expressed a reluctant acquiescence," the suit states. However, the lawsuit claims that Endow routinely told DeMille "she was engaging in the sexual activities solely and exclusively because of the benefits she was receiving."

Endow further claims that DeMille implied that she would lose those benefits if she stopped having sex with him.

Endow said she complained repeatedly to DeMille's supervisors, Frank Cosens and Castleberry; no action was taken, the suit claims. Instead, Cosens allegedly told her, "You should have told him yours is bigger. It may require batteries, but it's bigger." Castleberry allegedly advised her to "stop wearing white T-shirts." When Endow pressed the matter, Castleberry covered his ears and said, "I don't want to hear this," the lawsuit states.

When UTA issued new uniforms in May 2012, DeMille told the man who measures the uniforms that Endow would have sex with him and gave her phone number to him, the lawsuit claims. The man allegedly measured only Endow's bust; although Endow is 5 feet 2 inches tall, she received a uniform made for a man more than 300 pounds, according to the lawsuit. When Endow complained, the man allegedly asked whether she "tastes like Mountain Dew." Endow claims she complained to DeMille and Cosens, who did not follow up but began referring to him as Endow's "boyfriend," and told other employees to "go see [Endow's] boyfriend" whenever they needed uniforms or equipment.

Endow said her treatment at work contributed to severe depression and alcoholism. In July 2012, she told her husband, who confronted Cosens, the lawsuit claims. Endow was given two weeks paid leave, during which she filed a formal complaint with human resources officers. UTA performed a "cursory" investigation, which was closed with a finding of no cause, the lawsuit states. Endow claims that Toby Diaz, human resources director, told her that "boys will be boys," and the alleged behavior was to be expected on an overwhelmingly male crew.

Endow returned to work, where she has returned to "exclusively" weeding and station clean-up — the jobs she was relieved from during her relationship with DeMille. She "has been denied all requests for training and is not allowed to operate any of the machinery for which she received training," the lawsuit states. Because she cannot receive further certification and licenser, she cannot be promoted, the suit claims.

Endow is suing UTA and her supervisors, claiming quid pro quo sexual harassment, a hostile work environment, retaliation, violation of state law; negligence, sexual battery; and negligent hiring, supervision and employment.

Endow did not report the case to law enforcement, said her attorney W. Earl Webster.

"She didn't feel like she wanted to go that route," Webster said.

ealberty@sltrib.com

Twitter: @erinalberty