PHILADELPHIA — One of five employees of a Lancaster-based asbestos testing company named in a woman's sexual harassment lawsuit is off the hook -- for now -- after she agreed to drop some of her claims in the case, according to a federal judge's recent opinion.
In his eight-page opinion issued Nov. 9, U.S. District Court Judge Joseph Leeson Jr., on the bench in Pennsylvania's Eastern District, granted part of a motion for judgment on the pleadings or to dismiss filed by Jorge Intriago. Leeson's decision followed the agreement by the plaintiff, Sasha Hernandez, to drop claims against Intriago and other defendants, according to the opinion.
"Because there are unresolved factual questions, the motion to dismiss is granted and the motion for judgment on the pleadings is denied," the opinion said. "Hernandez is granted leave to file an amended complaint to attempt to cure the deficiencies in the retaliation claim."
Intriago is one of six named defendants in the case. The others are EHC Associates Inc., John D. Hartman, Esmerido Oliva-Chacon, Daniel L. Kylor and Elionea Cirilio.
"Although [Hernandez] alleges that other coworkers made harassing comments in front of Intriago, there are no other specific allegations in the complaint regarding Intriago," Leeson said in his opinion. "Similarly, while the complaint alleges that defendants threatened plaintiff and her boyfriend in retaliation for reporting the harassment, it makes no mention of any facts surrounding these subsequent threats. The complaint also fails to specify which of the six named defendants allegedly made such threats following the report."
Hernandez filed her lawsuit against the firm under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, and against named EHC employees under the Pennsylvania Human Resources Act (PHRA) alleging discrimination, retaliation and aiding and abetting.
Hernandez alleges she endured sexual harassment by coworkers between June 2015 and March 2016 when she and Intriago were employed by EHC as asbestos handlers, according to the background portion of Leeson's opinion. In one such incident in July 2015, Hernandez claims she was threatened with physical and sexual assault by another and became so upset that she "had to remove herself from the situation," the opinion said.
"Approximately five minutes later, Intriago summoned Hernandez and told her, 'you won't have to shower today,’ [because] ‘you're going home to have sex and you're already sweating'," the opinion continued.
Hernandez claims when she reported that incident, that named defendants threatened her and her boyfriend in retaliation.
"Hernandez requested a transfer to another project away from defendants, but was regularly scheduled to work with the same employees following the report," the opinion said.
Hernandez filed her lawsuit about a year ago.
Intriago filed his motion this past July. "In response, Hernandez has agreed to withdraw her third and fifth causes of action, leaving only the retaliation claim under the PHRA," the opinion said.
Leeson also dismissed Hernandez's retaliation claim and her remaining claims against Intriago that she agreed to withdraw.
In addition to dismissing all claims against Intriago, the parties in the case also agreed to dismissal of Hernandez's aiding and abetting claim under the PHRA, as well as her retaliation claim under the PHRA.
"Due to the insufficiency of the allegations, this court is unable to determine whether an amendment would be futile and therefore grants leave to amend," Leeson said in the conclusion of his opinion. "Hernandez is, once again, advised that if she decides to file an amended complaint to double check the dates of all alleged incidents and to make any necessary corrections."