Krispy Kreme Operator Hit With Sex Harassment Suit

May 21, 2003 ( - Four former employees of the state of Washington's Krispy Kreme doughnut shop operator have sued, claiming they were discriminated against because they were Hispanic and pressured for sex.

>Named in the suit filed in King County Superior Court were Krispy Kreme, the KremeWorks partnership that operated the local stores, a Krispy Kreme distribution center, and two company managers, Matthew Peterson and Humberto Esparza, according to a Seattle Post-Intelligencer report.

>The plaintiffs alleged that not only did KremeWorks promote whites over more experienced Hispanic employees and paid whites more, managers threatened female workers with dismissal if they didn’t submit to demands for sex.

>One plaintiff, identified as Jane Doe, said problems began three months after she was hired. That’s when Peterson began demanding sexual favors of the 20-year-old single mother, according to the lawsuit. Once, she said, Peterson followed her when she took trash outside and fondled her.

>She claimed that her refusals resulted in more and more menial work, including sweeping and mopping floors, she said. When he threatened to fire her, the woman gave in to his demands. All of the sexual acts took place at work, the woman said.   In August 2002, the woman put an end to the sexual encounters and claimed that pressure from Peterson forced her to quit.

>Another female worker, Margarita Salazar, 29, said Peterson also harassed her and on one occasion, in March 2002, exposed himself to her after directing her to an isolated room of a Krispy Kreme distribution center in Seattle. Salazar ran from the room.

>Gerard Centioli, chief executive officer of KremeWorks, the partnership operating the Krispy Kreme outlets in Washington, issued a statement to the newspaper saying the company was “reviewing the matter,” but would not discuss details of the claims against the company or the managers named in the lawsuit.