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Suit claims Wal-Mart fired harassed woman

A woman who claims she was fired from her job at Wal-Mart after complaining about a co-worker's description of piercings on his penis is suing the retailer in federal court.
/ Source: Reuters

A woman who claims she was fired from her job at Wal-Mart after complaining about a co-worker's description of piercings on his penis is suing the retailer in federal court.

April Brown said a co-worker subjected her to "sexually offensive comments on a regular, daily basis" and touched her inappropriately during her overnight shift as a stocker at Wal-Mart Stores Inc. in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, according to papers filed last week in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama and Brown's attorney, David Arendall.

"He talked about piercings on his penis and how the girls loved the feel of it," the lawsuit said.

Wal-Mart, the world's largest retailer, has faced criticism before for its treatment of workers. Last year, the company became the target of the largest workplace bias lawsuit in U.S. history. That case, pending in San Francisco, covers as many as 1.6 million current and former female employees.

The lawsuit filed in Alabama also claims that Brown's co-worker asked "whether she wore granny panties or a thong," and told her "about the size of his penis and how he would make her 'baa like a goat."'

In the suit, Brown said she reported the behavior to various supervisors, including the store manager.

Two weeks later, the lawsuit said the store manager, Fred Twilly, accused Brown of misconduct and fired her.

The suit claims Twilly, on behalf of Wal-Mart, "has fired other females complaining of sexual harassment by co-workers and managers."

Wal-Mart spokeswoman Christi Gallagher said Wal-Mart "prohibits harassment of any kind," but would not comment on the specifics of Brown's suit, citing company policy. She added that the company had not yet seen the lawsuit.

Twilly, reached via phone at the Tuscaloosa Wal-Mart, declined to comment on Brown's claims.