Swinging HR Director Harassed Gay Worker, Lawsuit Says

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By Patrick Dorrian

A fired gay client relations manager in New York was sexually harassed and retaliated against, including by the company’s human resources director, who told him she was a “swinger” and subjected him to unwelcome touching, he alleges in a federal lawsuit ( Isaac v. UtiliSave, LLC , S.D.N.Y., No. 1:17-cv-05389, complaint filed 7/17/17 ).

Trevor Isaac says Marina Novikova’s harassment also included constant questions about his sexual orientation, telling him about her sexuality, and revealing that she lets her teenage son watch pornography. She also showed him a clip on her mobile phone of a monkey masturbating, Isaac alleges in a July 17 complaint filed with the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.

Isaac complained to UtiliSave LLC Chief Executive Officer Michael Steifman, but he was sent back to Novikova, according to the complaint. When Isaac did as he was told and complained to Novikova, she apologized, but she and Steifman soon began to retaliate against Isaac. The retaliation culminated in Isaac’s termination in December, after Steifman falsely accused Isaac of being late for work, the lawsuit said.

The complaint includes claims against UtiliSave under federal law as well as state and city law claims against the company, Novikova, and Steifman.

Texts, Hugs, and Ear Nibbling

Isaac says he joined UtiliSave in April 2014. The company provides utility bill auditing and data optimization services to “large energy consumers,” according to its website.

Novikova’s harassment began sometime in 2016, Isaac alleges. It included her telling employees that her husband has a girlfriend and showing Isaac sexually graphic text messages on her phone. In another incident, Novikova hugged Isaac without his permission and nibbled on his ear, the complaint says.

When Isaac reacted by jumping back in shock, the HR director stated, “I hope you’re not going to sue me,” he alleges.

Despite Isaac’s complaints, the harassment didn’t stop, the lawsuit says. Instead, Isaac faced immediate retaliation, including having his job responsibilities gradually taken away and assigned to other employees and his “exact job” being posted on Indeed.com several months before he was fired, the complaint charges.

Novikova also started reprimanding Isaac over trivial things, including telling him he needed to call Steifman whenever he was going to be out sick. There was no requirement to call in about sick days to the company CEO in UtiliSave’s employee handbook, according to Isaac.

UtiliSave didn’t respond July 17 to Bloomberg BNA’s request for comment.

Derek Smith Law Group PLLC represents Isaac. No attorney had filed an appearance yet for UtiliSave, Novikova, or Steifman.

To contact the reporter on this story: Patrick Dorrian in Washington at pdorrian@bna.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Peggy Aulino at maulino@bna.com; Terence Hyland at thyland@bna.com; Chris Opfer at copfer@bna.com

Copyright © 2017 The Bureau of National Affairs, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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