Woman Claims Sexual Harassment Caused Loss of Fingers

July 26, 2006 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - A Virginia woman claims she lost her thumb and pinky finger on her left hand as a result of persistent sexual harassment from a coworker.

Kimberly Wallis, who is deaf, says managers at Cargill Meat Solutions did little to stop the harassment or accommodate her disability, according to the Peoria Star Journal. Wallis’ lawsuit says she was employed on a meat skinning line where workers would process meat through high-speed cutting machines.

The suit says an employee assigned to Wallis’ team “engaged in a course of … unwelcome and sexually offensive conduct” toward Wallis on a daily basis, according to the news report. If Wallis ignored the man, he would grab her hands, throw meat or refuse to rotate machines as required, the suit says.

In her suit, Wallis says she repeatedly complained to a supervisor and after a month without remedy, she talked to another supervisor, who escorted her to a third supervisor. According to the suit, two supervisors discussed the problem but did not provide a sign interpreter and Wallis could not understand everything they talked about. That day, one supervisor called Wallis and the coworker into his office and told the coworker of her complaint.

When the coworker continued to make remarks at Wallis days later, she ignored him and he began throwing meat at her. While calling over a supervisor in training from another line, Wallis became distracted during the argument. Her hand was caught in the cutting machine and her thumb and finger were severed. Her thumb has been reattached but is not functional, according to the news report.

Wallis’ suit claims discrimination based on sex and violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act. She is seeking at least $300,000 in damages.