January 10, 2009 in City

Ex-worker sues over alleged assault

By The Spokesman-Review
 

A former employee sued a St. Maries nursing home and its former CEO on Thursday, alleging the CEO sexually harassed and assaulted her.

Theresa K. Brandvold alleges that ex-CEO Scott Burpee’s actions escalated from excessive office visits and compliments on her body to pressuring her into sexual activity through threats that she’d lose her job if she did not comply.

Valley Vista officials had not seen the lawsuit Friday and could not comment, said Sandy Kennelly, the company’s compliance manager. Burpee could not be reached for comment. The suit was filed in 1st District Court in Kootenai County.

The lawsuit says that Brandvold reported the unwanted sexual contact to her company’s human resources office in early March 2007, but the activity continued through that month.

On March 27, Burpee pressured Brandvold into sexual activity, with which she complied out of fear, the suit says. Their conversation was overheard by two housekeepers. The next day, Burpee attempted to fire the housekeepers, but they’d already reported what they had heard to human resources officer Lisa Lloyd, the suit says.

On March 29, Lloyd told Brandvold that Burpee had been fired, adding that Burpee “had a long history of similar sexual misconduct toward female employees,” the suit says.

In the following months, retaliation from other employees and administrators developed until Brandvold eventually left her job, the suit says.

Brandvold and her husband, Rudy Brandvold, allege that the actions of Burpee, Valley Vista and its board of directors have caused them emotional distress, mental anguish, wounded pride, shame, physical ailments and economic damages. They are seeking a judgment against the defendants in excess of $10,000.


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