Teens claim sexual harassment, seek $5 M from retailer

John Suayan, Galveston Bureau Dec. 21, 2009, 6:47am

GALVESTON - Alleging they were sexually harassed by their supervisor when they worked at Dollar Tree, two Friendswood teenagers are seeking $5 million from the discount retail store.

The 17-year-old girls, referred to as Jane Doe 1 and Jane Doe 2, say store manager Kenneth Crawford acted in a hostile manner toward them because they rejected his sexual advances.

"The sexual harassment created a hostile and offensive work environment," the original petition said.

Their suit was filed Dec. 14 in Galveston County District Court.

Crawford, 30, is named a co-defendant with Dollar Tree.

According to the complaint, Jane Does 1 and 2 were employed at the Friendswood branch of Dollar Tree under Crawford's watch.

The girls claim they were harassed even before they started working at the store, alleging Crawford made unwanted passes at each of them during their individual interviews.

The plaintiffs claim the supervisor would give them unwelcomed hugs and kisses as well as touch them inappropriately throughout the course of the work day. They allege Crawford forced them to have sex in the store's back office, and that he invited them to a night of intimacy at either his residence or a hotel.

If the teens rejected his advances, they would be verbally abused in front of their coworkers, the suit says.

Jane Doe 1 resigned while Jane Doe 2 was fired, the suit says.

The girls claim another supervisor reported the events surrounding them and Crawford to upper management, but no action was taken until after the plaintiffs were no longer employed.

They insist they suffer from very low self esteem, insecurity and self doubt because of Crawford's alleged actions.

"The emotional distress suffered by the plaintiffs was and is severe," the suit says.

Along with monetary damages, the girls seek a jury trial.

Webster attorneys Chad Pinkerton and Jose Luis Orihuela are representing the plaintiffs. Galveston County 405th District Court Judge Wayne Mallia is presiding over the case.

Case No. 09CV2308

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