Lawsuit Claims WomanWas Fired for Accusing Boss of Sexual Harassment

Tuesday, November 30th 1999, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

A woman filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against a Tulsa company Tuesday. She says after she complained to her supervisors about her boss's behavior, she was fired and he was promoted. The News on Six talked the exclusively with the woman and her attorney.

Yasha Hill says her boss touched her at work repeatedly for months despite her protests. "I told him to stop,” said Hill. “I didn't like him touching and massaging me. I didn't want him to touch me, period."

Hill says her boss at Nabi Biomedical Center, Chip Van Griffith, laughed off her complaints. She says she complained to the higher management of the company, but received no better response. "I told other people in the office including supervisors and the management,” Hill said. “They said, ‘He's a touchy, feelie guy. It's his personality.’ I didn't appreciate it,” she said. “I didn't want him touching me."

"What is a touchy, feelie person?,” asked Hill's attorney Jeff Nix. “There is no such thing in our legal system. That's a title other white males make up. It's like a drive-by shooting is really murder and touchy-feelie is really sexual harassment, sexual power."

Hill's lawyer gave the News on Six seven letters he said were from people in her office who witnessed the touching. Carl Haynes writes, "I have observed Chip touching and hugging Yasha and she has set boundaries with him, not to be touching her." Ann Schumacher says "I have seen Chip touch employees in unprofessional ways." And Ollie Brooks said, "I have seen him grab, hold on to, hug and feel on women."

"You always think, 'What am I doing wrong?'” Hill explained. “How am I projecting myself? But it's not my fault that this man has a problem with his hands." Hill says the company fired her three weeks ago. She says they told her it was because she'd used too much family leave time. She feels it was in retaliation for accusing her boss of sexual harrassment.

A Nabi Biomedical Center vice president spoke with the News on Six by telephone and said, "We take these kinds of allegations very seriously. We (Nabi) completed a thorough investigation and took all appropriate actions necessary. We believe Mrs. Hill's allegations are without merit." When asked whether Hill's boss had been promoted, the company spokesman said that was confidential information, but did confirm Van Griffith still works at the Tulsa office.

Hill says she's also filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission accusing the company of firing her unfairly.