The Jacksonville Port Authority faces a civil-rights lawsuit filed by a Jacksonville woman who contends JAXPORT employees pressured her to have sex when she was applying for a job and then made the same demand for sex after she got a promotion.
Our Florida Times-Union news partner reports Jacksonville resident Glenda Prinzi filed the federal lawsuit last week, detailing allegations from March 2015 through February 2017 that her attorney says “demonstrate a culture of workplace sexual harassment at JaxPort.”
“Such conduct is entirely unacceptable in this day and age,” said Matt Kachergus, an attorney with the firm Sheppard, White, Kachergus and DeMaggio.
In response to the lawsuit, JAXPORT CEO Eric Green read a statement Monday during that port authority’s monthly board meeting.
“While it is our long-time policy not to comment on specifics of current litigation, I want to reiterate that I have zero tolerance for workplace harassment of any kind,” Green said.
Green, who took on the CEO role in March 2017, said JaxPort’s longstanding policy prohibits supervisors from using their authority to “intimidate, coerce or harass anyone during the course of their work.”
“I take these allegations very seriously and will not tolerate improper workplace behavior,” Green said. “I will continue to provide JAXPORT’s employees and our contractors a work environment that is respectful, tolerant and free from discrimination.”
Prinzi also is suing the contractor U.S. Security Associates, based in Roswell, Ga.
The firm, whose contract with JAXPORT ended Sunday, provided security services at port authority property. Prinzi worked for the firm, which in turn worked closely with JaxPort’s security division. Prinzi’s suit contends a U.S. Security Associates employee sexually assaulted her.
U.S. Security Associates issued a statement saying it strives to provide employees a “safe workplace free from harassment and retaliation” and works to ensure its employees “take those same principles to the job sites they protect.”
“We take very seriously allegations like those made in the lawsuit filed by Ms. Prinzi,” the company’s statement said. “The actions suggested in this lawsuit would not be tolerated at our company. We are still investigating the details of the complaint that’s been filed and, therefore, cannot go point by point through the allegations in it. But we are committed to the truth and will take appropriate action as that is determined.”
Prinzi’s suit says a JAXPORT employee in the security division encouraged her in March 2015 to apply for a job in the communications center. After she submitted her application, the suit says, the employee repeatedly asked her to go with him to a hotel to have sex. She eventually relented because she feared refusing him would undermine her ability to be considered for the job, the suit says.
The suit says after she got the job, a different JAXPORT employee in a supervisory role made unwanted sexual advances. After Prinzi got a promotion, that JAXPORT supervisor talked to her in July 2016 about how she could “repay him” for the promotion and told her to meet him at a hotel for sex, which she agreed to because she feared refusal would result in losing her promotion, the suit says.