May 30, 1996 in Nation/World

Tobacco Workers Claim Sex Harassment

Compiled From Wire Services

Philip Morris USA faces a sexual harassment lawsuit that alleges women at a cigarette plant here were pressured to trade sex for promotions and favorable job assignments.

The lawsuit filed by five women Tuesday in Jefferson Circuit Court is the third since 1994 that has alleged the plant is plagued by a sexually charged atmosphere. It seeks unspecified damages.

The women in the latest lawsuit allege their careers suffered because they were not part of “a stable of ‘thoroughbreds”’ - female workers who, they say, were expected to entertain company officials and vendors.

They contend they witnessed or were victims of unwanted touching, pinching and neck massaging. They also say they were pressured for dates and sex and had to listen to men tell stories about their sexual fantasies.

Company spokesman Dan Ison said the company does not comment on pending litigation. But he said Philip Morris “is fully committed to a work environment free of harassment for all our employees.”

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