Aaron's employee says hostile work environment prompted resignation

By John Suayan, Galveston Bureau | Oct 18, 2012

HOUSTON - A San Jacinto County woman alleges she experienced sexual harassment which culminated in a superior's drunken attempt to get her to have sex with him at a hotel while she was employed with Aaron's Inc. and has filed suit against the national furniture rental chain.

Recent court documents submitted Oct. 16 in the Houston Division of the Southern District of Texas assert Coldspring resident Lauren Snuggs was the target of retaliation and abuse after the allged encounter with regional manager Seth Smith, stating she was prompted to quit.

Aaron's hired Snuggs as a customer service representative in February 2008, and since that time, was promoted to sales manager, a position she held at the time of the events in question.

The suit shows Smith, who is not a defendant in the case, would inappropriately touch Snuggs as well as make off-color, unwanted comments to her.

He reportedly invited the plaintiff to go drinking with him -- even in an occasional intoxicated state -- to which she declined.

Snuggs recalls how the manager tried to flirt with her at the 2010 company Christmas party at Colburn's Bar and Nightclub in Humble and came to her hotel afterwards to try to get her to sleep with him.

The plaintiff says she resisted his advances, but when she reported the supposed misconduct to her supervisor, her complaints were "laughed" off.

Snuggs claims the defendant "systematically" took revenge against her in light of an internal investigation, even going as far as fabricating her time cards to remove overtime.

According to the original petition, a verbal threat to her job made by her manager Michael Van Arsdale caused the complainant to turn in her keys and tender her resignation.

A jury trial is requested.

Attorney Thomas H. Padgett Jr. of Bellaire is representing Snuggs.

Case No. 4:12-cv-3081

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