Two women sue for sexual discrimination

Published 8:40 am Wednesday, April 21, 2010

WAVERLY—Two area women are suing their employer for allegedly taking no action after the pair discovered three peep holes that allowed their male co-workers to watch them shower.

Felicia Tennessee of Capron and Bridgett Edwards of Emporia and formerly of Franklin last week filed a sexual discrimination and harassment suit against Murphy-Brown, a hog production subsidiary of Smithfield Foods in Waverly. Both are asking for a jury trial and $500,000 in damages.

Tennessee and Edwards claim despite reporting incidents of alleged sexual harassment to management, nothing was done.

According to the suit filed at U.S. District Court in Norfolk, Tennessee and Edwards worked in an area where they helped deliver newborn pigs. They were required to shower before entering the birthing area. They also took showers after leaving the area.

In January 2008, the women planned to shower at day’s end, but changed their minds, according to court documents. When Tennessee opened the door to leave the shower, she found a male employee leaning against the door. Surprised, the male employee fell to the floor and fled.

That’s when Tennessee and Edwards discovered three drill holes in the door, according to the suit.

They claims she reported the holes to a supervisor and were advised the holes would be patched, according to the suit. They also were told the man would not be fired nor would the company attempt to determine how many other employees were involved because it would leave them shorthanded.

In her lawsuit, Tennessee claims a male employee told her he loved her and wanted her body. She also claims two male co-workers showed her a book with graphic pictures. Tennessee reported the incidents to management, but nothing was done.

Both women claimed in their lawsuits that some male co-workers rubbed the arms and legs of the women and drew a graphic sexual picture on a sow processing card.

Don Butler, spokesman for Murphy-Brown, did not return a telephone call to The Tidewater News.

State Sen. Henry L. Marsh III of Richmond, who is representing Tennessee and Edwards, also did not return a telephone call.

Edwards has worked at the company since April 1996 and Tennessee has been there since August 1997.