Phyllis Bannish has filed a lawsuit against Ingles Markets, claiming she was fired after complaining about sexual harassment.
Bannish started working at Ingles Markets in March 2015 and held several different positions, including cashier, customer service manager and scanner coordinator.
Within a few weeks of starting as a cashier, Bannish claims assistant store manager Jeremy Douglas, “-began behaving inappropriately when he was near me. For instance, Douglas often would come up behind me and stand unnecessarily close to me so that the front of his pants touched my backside, or he would reach over me so that his arm would purposely brush against my breast. He also would stare at me and lick his lips with his hands in his pockets.”
Bannish said on other occasions Douglas would walk towards her and tug on his penis.
In April 2015, Bannish said she reported the behavior to her supervisor, Dorene Bolt. She said Bolt told her to drop the complaints, telling her “it is the good-old-boy mentality and if you report this you will get fired and their lawyers will eat you alive.”
As Douglas continued to sexually harass her, Bannish said she complained to Bolt again in June and October 2015. Bolt told her that complaining to the store manager would be useless and then transferred to another store shortly after.
On June 5, 2016, while talking about Banish’s promotions, “Douglas made a comment insinuating that Jarrett had promoted me in return for sexual favors. After he made this comment, I immediately left the conversation as I was emotionally distraught and crying.”
Bannish went to the store on her next day off to talk to Jarrett about Douglas’ behavior.
Jarret allegedly said, “I guess you don’t want to work here anymore.”
“I understood from that statement that I was terminated, and did not return to work the next day as was originally scheduled,” Banish said.
Bannish first filed an Equal Employment Opportunity Commision complaint in November 2016, alleging discrimination.
She received a notice of right to sue from EEOC in October.
The lawsuit asks for more than $200,000 in compensatory and punitive damages for gender discrimination, negligent infliction of emotional distress, loss of wages and other benefits.