|TRENTON – The Division on Civil Rights announced today that a North Jersey party host company will pay a former employee $15,000 and have its workers undergo anti-discrimination training to resolve allegations the former employee , a teen-age girl, suffered sexual harassment on the job and was later terminated for reporting it.
Under terms of a settlement agreement reached with the Division, Screamin’ Parties of Paramus, Bergen County, will pay the former employee a total of $15,000 in three separate installments over the next 12 months. The ex- employee, a minor who resides in Paramus, is identified in a formal complaint filed with the Division only as A.C.
“This is a fair settlement that resolves troubling allegations,” said Division Director Craig T. Sashihara. “This could have been anyone’s teenage child working at his or her first job. Our daughters and sons entering the workplace are entitled to the same protections against sexual harassment as more experienced workers, and we are committed to ensuring that they receive those protections.”
Screamin’ Parties features arena areas containing inflatable slides, obstacle courses and “bounce houses,” among other attractions. The company hosts parties for children between the ages of two and 12, and its locations also offer “open bounce” time when the facilities are available for public use on a walk-in basis.
A.C. was hired to work as a party host/kitchen employee at Screamin’ Parties West Nyack, N.Y., facility in January 2011, and subsequently transferred to the company’s location in South Paramus in February 2011.
In her formal Complaint, A.C. alleged that from April 2011 until the end of her employment in mid-December 2011, she was regularly subjected to unwelcome, suggestive overtures by her male supervisor. For example, the girl alleged that she received text messages from the supervisor asking, “Can I hit it in the morning?” and urging her to “Meet me in the closet.”
In addition, the girl said she became aware of a number of allegedly inappropriate workplace comments made about her by the supervisor. On one occasion, the girl alleged, she was told the supervisor had informed a male co-worker that there would be a “race” between A.C. and another minor female employee to determine who would be first to perform oral sex on him. On at least one occasion, she told Division investigators, the supervisor sent her a text message using the “f-word.”
In November 2011, A.C. complained about her supervisor’s allegedly harassing behavior to Screamin’ Parties co-owner Christina Sachs. A month later, the girl was informed by the other co-owner, Howard Abraham, that she was no longer employed because she’d breached company policy. A.C.’s purported breach involved having her cell phone in the play area, a violation for which other employees had previously received only verbal warnings.
Although Screamin’ Parties denied the allegation, A.C. alleged that she was let go as reprisal for reporting sexual harassment on the job. Earlier this year, the Division on Civil Rights found probable cause to sustain both A.C.’s sexual harassment allegations, and her allegation of having been fired as reprisal.
In addition to paying A.C. $15,000 and having its managers and employees undergo anti-discrimination training, Screamin’ Parties has agreed to put in place specific anti-discrimination and anti-harassment policies, including effective complaint procedures. The company has also agreed to expunge any record of A.C. having been terminated, and to indicate that she resigned in good standing.
Under the settlement agreement, Screamin’ Parties denies any liability or wrongdoing.
Deputy Attorney General Farng-Yi Foo and Investigators Vladimir Vitella and Ana Limo-Magras handled the Screamin’ Parties matter on behalf of the State.