Philly Sheriff Accused of Sexual Harassment, Genitalia Jokes
An employee of Sheriff Jewell Williams claims he hampered her career after she rejected his advances.
Philly’s sheriff has been accused of sexual harassment by an employee who says he made genitalia jokes and called her a “home wrecker” and a “whore” at work.
In a federal civil lawsuit first reported by Philly.com, Vanessa Bines, 40, claims that Sheriff Jewell Williams and staff inspector Paris Washington sexually harassed her for years. The Sheriff’s Office has denied the allegations.
According to the complaint, Williams showed a romantic interest in Bines starting in 2013, when the office hired her as an administrative assistant. In 2014, the plaintiff contends, Washington began making “inappropriate comments” about Bines in front of co-workers, allegedly telling her that he wanted to know what she had “between [her] legs.”
The lawsuit also accuses Washington of telling a co-worker that if she was looking for Bines, she was “with him on her knees.”
Bines claims she told Williams about the alleged harassment, but Williams allegedly harassed her too. According to the complaint, Williams made jokes referencing the size of his genitalia and wondered aloud at work if Bines “had spots down there,” referring to Bines’s genitalia. Bines suffers from vitiligo, a condition that causes skin to lose color in blotches.
The lawsuit also accuses Williams of retaliating against Bines when he found out that she began dating his driver, by “monitoring [Bines] more closely than any other employee,” calling her names and telling Washington to “fuck with [her].”
Per the complaint, Bines reported Washington to the city’s Equal Employment Opportunity Office in May 2016. In October of that year, Bines claims, she was asked to train another person to do her job. That December, Bines was diagnosed with depression and insomnia “as a result of the harassment she endured while working in the Sheriff’s Department.”
Philly.com reports that in a statement on Monday, the Sheriff’s Department said Williams “categorically, and in the strongest possible fashion, denies” the allegations and that he has attempted to “create a workplace where everyone is respected and treated equitably.”
“The sheriff looks forward to the day when he and this office are fully and completely vindicated from the allegations, and ask the public to allow the court to do its job before passing judgement,” the statement reportedly continues.
This past spring, Bines filed employment discrimination charges against Washington and Williams, who, she claims, attempted to cause her to lose her job. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission gave her a right-to-sue letter in July, according to the complaint.
Bines has also sued the city, claiming she was denied the opportunity to become a permanent city administrator this July because of her reports to the EEO and the EEOC and that the Sheriff’s Department “maintains a grossly sexist culture in which male employees who engaged in sexual conduct are protected.”
Bines is seeking $100,000, plus interest, in compensatory damages, attorney’s fees and punitive damages.