Main Line’s Overbrook Golf Club Hit With Messy Sexual Harassment Suit

The club calls the allegations "irresponsible and distasteful lies."

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The Overbrook Golf Club may bear the name of the crowded, rough-in-parts neighborhood that sits on the western edge of Philadelphia, but the exclusive private club is very far removed from the inner city, located instead on 128 “magnificent, rolling acres” in Villanova, the “heart of the fabled Philadelphia Main Line,” as the club describes it. There’s a 25-meter pool, a 35,000-square-foot “Georgian manor” for member dining, and, of course, an exquisite golf course, where its members exchange blue-blooded niceties and market tips. But a new lawsuit casts an ugly shadow on all that high-society tidiness.

overbrook-golf-club-lawsuit-400Delaware County resident Tayna Coles, who is black, is suing Overbrook Golf Club and her supervisor, Greg Ferreri, pictured in a staff photo from the club’s website, for sexual harassment and discrimination. The suit was filed in Philadelphia’s federal court (see full suit below).

Coles says she was hired as a part-time cook in 2007 and promoted to pantry chef in 2008 and that throughout her employment and until her termination in 2012, she suffered sexual harassment and discrimination at the hands of Ferreri, the executive chef.

Some allegations from the complaint:

Ferreri … touched her by coming up to her from behind, placing the front of his hips and pubic region into the middle of plaintiff’s buttocks, placing his hands around plaintiff’s waist and stating “I knew you would come around, baby …”

Ferreri treated plaintiff and her peers — African-American, Latina and White female Overbrook employees — with distinct sexual animus which subjected them to a pervasively hostile sexual harassing workplace.

Ferreri would put his hand on either of plaintiff’s breasts and cup them bouncing and otherwise squeezing plaintiff’s breasts … This happened many times…

Ferreri would come up to plaintiff from behind, and place either or both his hands on plaintiff’s buttocks…

Ferreri would routinely try to kiss plaintiff on the mouth which he would try by caging plaintiff between Ferreri’s body and a wall or kitchen counter…

Ferreri visited plaintiff’s home and once attempted to rape her by simply insisting on going up to plaintiff’s bedroom and slamming her on the bed at that time after which he placed his entire body upon hers and told her “shut up” and “just be quiet” and “you talk too much” and “just let it happen” until plaintiff finally screamed “get off me” and told Ferreri that plaintiff’s daughter was about to come upstairs.

Additionally, Coles accuses Ferreri of saying all of the following to her:

“Does your bra match your panties?”

“Your ass is so soft!”

“Black women have the best breasts.”

Meanwhile, in documents filed by Overbrook with the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission (below), the club denies the allegations and paints a picture of Coles as a difficult employee who demonstrated “ongoing and continuous insubordination and improper conduct.”

The club claims that Coles “violently swung her arm” at Ferreri on one occasion and that she aggressively responded “I have been cleaning the whole f___ing kitchen” when he simply asked her what work she had been doing. The club calls Coles’ allegations “irresponsible and distasteful lies.”

Ferreri did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Follow @VictorFiorillo on Twitter.

Tanya Coles’ suit:

Overbrook Golf Club’s response in a filing with the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission