NEWINGTON — Gunmaker Sig Sauer is asking a judge to pause a lawsuit alleging a former employee “was subjected to egregious sexual harassment” by her supervisor and to order the case to out-of-court arbitration.
The suit was filed in the U.S. District Court of New Hampshire in September by Pamela Bond who alleges her boss once “threatened to strap Ms. Bond to a gun part tumbler so that he could watch her (slang for breasts and buttocks) shake.” Bond told the Portsmouth Herald she reported unwanted harassment to supervisors and human resources, that a co-worker signed an affidavit about witnessing it, but her reports were met with retaliation. A grandmother of 10, she said the job was her way out of homelessness.
Sig Sauer is represented by the Portsmouth law firm of Jackson Lewis, which last week filed a motion seeking a stay and an order that Bond be mandated to arbitrate, not litigate her claims. Sig's motion states that when Bond was hired in December 2014 as a full-time tumbler operator, she signed a "confidential information, non-solicitation, invention assignment and arbitration agreement." Included in the agreement, Sig claims, is a clause mandating arbitration "of all controversies, claims or disputes with the company arising out of, relating to, or resulting from this agreement."
The federal court has not yet ruled on Sig's motion and has scheduled a Dec. 7 pretrial conference.
Sig was previously successful with the same legal argument in an unrelated federal lawsuit filed by a woman who claimed she was fired from her job as Sig's compliance director after reporting an unlawful shipment of firearms to an end user described as the “Indonesian way of spelling Ministry of Defense.” Dover's Patricia Hall-Cloutier filed that three-count lawsuit alleging violation of whistleblower protection, wrongful termination and Family Medical Leave Act retaliation. Sig Sauer countered that Hall-Cloutier had to arbitrate her claims out of court, per terms of her employment agreement.
In a January order, U.S. District Court Judge Landya McCafferty found in Sig Sauer’s favor ruling that Hall-Cloutier’s employment agreement “does not include a provision that allows Hall to challenge her termination in court,” does include a clause mandating arbitration and notes she could be terminated at any time for any lawful reason. With that order, the civil case was terminated.
Bond is represented by attorney Megan Douglass who filed the suit alleging "early in (Bond's) employment" she was “sexually taunted” by a coworker who once fired an air gun at her buttocks as she bent over to pick up her coat. Bond’s suit states she reported that incident to her supervisor as “unacceptable,” but he failed to address it, or report it to the human resources department. In the spring of 2015, she claims, her supervisor began sexually harassing her.
She claims her buttocks were discussed in the workplace, her supervisor asked her to “jump up on the tumbler and dance” and when she dropped some gun parts, her supervisor instructed, “b****, pick that up.” In October 2015, Bond alleges, her supervisor instructed her to “come closer so he could ‘slap her (buttocks).’”
“Throughout this period, in response to (the supervisor’s) behavior, Ms. Bond respectfully admonished (the supervisor), telling him, albeit with increasing forcefulness, to the effect of ‘please do not speak to me in that way,’” her federal suit alleges.