$1 million lawsuit alleges groping, choking at SERVPRO
A now-fired female employee says she was choked, groped in the crotch, grabbed, slapped and forcibly kissed while on the job at SERVPRO, according to a new lawsuit.
The woman — who worked as an administrative assistant for SERVPRO of Northwest Portland — alleges that she faced routine unwelcome sexual and violent advances at the hands of Josh Laulile, the company's water restoration project manager.
"I know you like it, shut the f— up," Laulile allegedly told the female employee after she asked him to stop, according to the suit filed Saturday, Aug. 25 in Multnomah Circuit Court.
The woman now seeks nearly $1 million in damages from Laulile and PDX Restoration, which does business as SERVPRO of Lake Oswego, West Linn and Northwest Portland. She says that managers and other employees witnessed or were told about the ongoing sexual comments and physical approaches.
The Tribune is not publishing the name of the plaintiff at this time because she is allegedly a victim of sexual harassment.
Suzanne Jackson, general manager for the residential and commercial clean-up franchise, denied the claims made in the lawsuit.
"The allegations are inaccurate and the company is fully intending to vigorously defend itself," she said.
Laulile grew up in the Los Angeles area, previously worked in construction and is the father of one daughter with another on the way, according to SERVPRO's website. He joined the company in May of 2015.
"I can not speak without an attorney," Laulile said in a brief phone interview. "I so very much rather you'd speak to my superiors."
The woman says the company investigated her complaints but deemed the evidence "inconclusive" and ordered her to continue working with Laulile.
The woman responded by saying she would soon give her two week's notice, according to the 11-page lawsuit. After the female employee rejected a proposed severance agreement she was terminated immediately, the suit claims, and was apparently told to sign a voluntary termination of employment form while in a state of obvious emotional distress.
The woman was hired on April 30, 2015 and fired in early January of 2018, according to the lawsuit. She says she had previously been promoted and received positive feedback from her managers.
She alleges the bad behavior began in August of 2017.
The suit was filed by attorneys Aaron Baker and Serena Liss of Baker Law PC. They did not immediately respond to a request for comment.