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Stereotype of the Month Entry

Another Stereotype of the Month entry:

From the Bangor News:

Worker alleges she was called 'squaw'

Wednesday, November 30, 2005 -- Bangor Daily News

BANGOR -- A Presque Isle woman has sued an Aroostook County company in federal court, alleging that employees called her "squaw," "running bear," "two feathers" and other names demeaning her American Indian heritage.

Amy Joseph, 33, last week sued Huber Engineered Wood of Easton in U.S. District Court in Bangor. She charged the company with creating a hostile work environment and violating the Maine Human Rights Act. The act makes it illegal for an employer to maintain a racially hostile environment.

The complaint didn't specify Joseph's tribal heritage.

She is seeking unspecified compensatory and punitive damages and a jury trial. A trial date has not been set.

The company's attorney, Douglas Courier of Portland, on Monday denied the allegations.

"Huber believes strongly that the complaint is without merit," he said.

Joseph's attorney, Guy Loranger of Saco, said last week that "serious racial epithets" had been directed at his client.

"When you listen to the comments made to her and some of the things done to her," Loranger said, "the behavior is egregious."

Joseph, who no longer works at the company, recently received a right-to-sue letter from the Maine Humans Rights Commission after the commission failed to complete its investigation in the required time period, her attorney said.

Huber's Easton mill was built in 1981 and manufactures a wide variety of engineered wood products, including flooring and sheathing products. It is owned by J.M. Huber Corp., which is based in Charlotte, N.C. It employs Aroostook County residents and Canadians, according to information on the company Web site.

Joseph worked as a laborer at the company for about a year, according to her attorney. Alleged incidents she found harassing included a feather duster taped to her fork lift. Comments made to her such as "Wouldn't it be easier of you to send smoke signals?" rather than use a telephone caused her to seek counseling, according to court documents.

She informed the firm's director of human resources about the hostile work environment on three occasions between November 2003 and August 2004, but no action was taken, according to the complaint.

Joseph's direct supervisor admitted he was aware of the name-calling and belittling behavior and knew it was against the company's harassment policy, but did not take prompt actions to remedy it, according to court documents.

Related links
Squelching the s-word

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