News

Employee brings charges against Boys & Girls Club key volunteer

by MATTHEW NASH
and MARK COUHIG

Lindsey A. Richardson, 34, a Sequim Boys & Girls Club employee, has filed a sexual harassment charge against the organization.

 

In her complaint Richardson says she was subjected to harassment by Stephen Rosales, a volunteer with the club who also serves on the Boys & Girls Clubs’ board of directors.

 

The “charge of discrimination” was filed April 21 with the Washington State Human Rights Commission and the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. In the filing Richardson alleges that Rosales subjected her to physical and verbal harassment, including “numerous sexual comments regarding other women at the facility.”

 

Rosales said to date no one has contacted him about the charge except the clubs’ in-house counsel. Rosales also said he has not seen the complaint but denied any claims made against him.

 

“I will be totally exonerated from these false charges,” he said.

 

While indicating he is troubled by the charges, he said, “There has been a silver lining — the overwhelming support from the community is mind-boggling.”

 

“I love this club and this town and it’s sad how (Richardson) can do this kind of damage to a person.”

 

Rosales said he has signed a confidentiality agreement with the club and chose not to comment further.

 

The Sequim Gazette contacted Richardson, who deferred comments to her attorney, Terry A. Venneberg of Gig Harbor.

‘Physical and verbal harassment’

In her complaint, Richardson said Rosales often made “sexual remarks” about students’ mothers and asked her to “hook him up” with several of them. Richardson said Rosales “on numerous occasions” screamed and yelled at her and other female employees but “has not engaged in this type of conduct with male employees.”

 

According to Venneberg, the abuse extended to physical harassment, including an occasion when she was “pushed while in her chair” by Rosales.

 

Richardson was first hired by the club in August 2006 and served as snack coordinator before leaving Feb. 13, 2009.

 

Richardson was rehired by the club as an on-call staff member in June 2010 before being hired as a part-time membership services staffer in December 2010. In that role she worked at the facility’s front desk. Rosales, who began volunteering in 2006, also worked at the front desk.

 

Richardson said she complained about Rosales’ treatment toward her to Mary Budke, executive director of the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Olympic Peninsula. As a result, she said, “I was given the choice of transferring out of the Sequim facility or having my job changed to one with significantly less responsibility.”

 

In her complaint, Richardson said, “Mr. Rosales was not disciplined in any manner ....”

 

Richardson’s charge against the Boys & Girls Clubs ends by saying the clubs discriminated against her based on sex, in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 because the clubs’ administration failed to take appropriate remedial action in response to her sexual harassment complaint.

 

Budke said Richardson currently remains as “part-time floor staff.”

 

Budke wouldn’t comment on why Richardson left in 2009 or why she applied again for a different position.

“She’s still employed with us and that’s not going to change as far as I know,” Budke said.

 

Budke wouldn’t comment on Richardson’s charge that Budke had failed to respond properly to her complaint.

 

Jerry Sinn, board president of the clubs, said Rosales continues to serve on the clubs’ board of directors, though he has stopped serving as a volunteer bus driver and front desk worker.

 

Sinn said Rosales is planning to run for the Sequim School Board and stopped volunteering only because he didn’t want to be charged with a conflict of interest.

Actions to be taken

Venneberg said, “It’s my understanding the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is investigating the complaint.”

 

“They need to find out if discrimination is there,” he said. “They want to find out if there is ‘cause’ to believe a law has been violated. Then the person (Richardson) who filed the complaint can file suit in federal court under Chapter 7.”

 

Venneberg said an EEOC decision isn’t necessary for Richardson to file suit.

 

The person who filed the complaint can file suit in federal court with or without the involvement of the (commission). But the ‘cause’ filed by the (commission) is valuable “because it is admissible,” he said.

 

Venneberg said the commission typically takes a year to make a determination.

 

Sinn said the clubs’ board of directors has received the complaint and is undergoing a formal fact-gathering process, but wouldn’t give specifics.

 

He did say all complaints are taken seriously no matter the source.

 

Sinn didn’t provide a time frame for the completion of the clubs’ internal investigation.

 

“It’s business as usual,” Sinn said. “We’re going to try and do the best we can. Our summer programs start up this week.”

 

Rosales said he’s going to continue his school board campaign and continue serving as a club board member and Sequim Food Bank board president.

 

He also intends to start volunteering again at the club as a driver this summer.

 


 Reach Mark Couhig at mcouhig@sequimgazette.com.

 

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