Employee sues paint store after customer's lewd behavior goes unchecked

Marilyn Tennissen Oct. 29, 2007, 7:41am

A Tyler woman is taking her former employer to court, alleging the paint store management did nothing to stop repeated lewd behavior by a customer.

Camilla Steinkamp filed a federal suit against Kelly-Moore Paint Co. Inc. under the Civil Rights Act. The case was submitted to the Marshall Division of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas on Oct. 19.

Steinkamp was an employee of Kelly-Moore Paint in Tyler since May 22, 2006.

According to the original complaint, while working in the store Steinkamp was subjected to a "hostile work environment where she was repeatedly subjected to inappropriate and offensive touching, comments and conduct."

The suit describes three specific incidents of the alleged inappropriate behavior. In August 2006, one of the store's customers exposed himself to Steinkamp in the hall near the store's restrooms.

On October 25, 2006, the same customer exposed himself to Steinkamp and attempted to force him to touch him while exposed. Then on a third occasion, Steinkamp alleges this same man burst into the ladies' room while she was in the restroom.

Steinkamp claims she reported the incidents to her supervisor and requested that the lock to the women's restroom door be repaired, "however, no action to stop or prevent such conduct was taken."

Additionally, Steinkamp said she was also subjected to inappropriate sexual comments and conversations in the presence o f her supervisor.

"Because of her harassment which went unchecked, Ms. Steinkamp resigned on Jan. 19, 2007," the complaint states.
The plaintiff claims that Kelly-Moore has "enacted and effected policies and practices of unlawful and systematic exclusion of and discrimination against plaintiff" by failing to equalize conditions of employment for plaintiff as compared with male employees and arbitrarily applied standards and conditions of employment. The suit also claims that the defendant subjected Steinkamp to sexual harassment in the form of a hostile work environment.

In addition, Steinkamp claims she was threatened with termination after she reported the incidents.

She is seeking relief for lost back wages and insurance benefits, lost future wages, emotional pain and suffering, inconvenience, mental anguish and loss of enjoyment of life.

"Plaintiff would further show the court that she is entitled to recover punitive damages for defendant's discriminatory employment practices described above which were intentional and malicious acts," the suit states.

The complaint claims that the malicious acts caused the plaintiff to suffer extreme emotional distress, embarrassment, severe disappointment, indignation, shame, despair and public humiliation.

The Civil Rights Act of 1991 provides relief against discrimination in employment and equal rights for all persons.

William S. Hommel Jr. of Tyler is representing Steinkamp.

The case has been assigned to U.S. District Judge David Folsom.

Case No. 2:07-cv-459-DF

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