Female ex-bartender alleges 'hostile environment,' pattern of sexual harassment
By Sally Voth -- firstname.lastname@example.org
WOODSTOCK -- A former Strasburg Moose Lodge bartender is suing her old employers for what she says was retaliation for her complaints of sexual harassment.
Patricia F. Stabile filed the lawsuit against the lodge, at 572 Red Bud Road, and Moose International Inc. Headquarters in Mooseheart, Ill., in Shenandoah County Circuit Court on Aug. 9.
She says she was fired on Feb. 10, 2009, following a long campaign of harassment against her and other female staff members. Stabile is seeking unspecified damages.
In March 2007, Stabile started working at the lodge, which her suit says presents itself as a "family fraternity." It was anything but, according to Stabile's complaint, and the bar area atmosphere was one of a "private men's club where men were permitted to act out in wildly inappropriate ways."
In one instance cited by Stabile, she cut off a customer's alcohol because he was falling-down drunk. The suit says he returned to the lodge with a gun, and banged on the door, threatening Stabile's life and using sexual slurs against her.
"After a brief break, [the customer] was permitted back in the Lodge without so much as apologizing to Stabile," the complaint says.
Nothing was done when Stabile complained about sexually inappropriate remarks from customers, it says. It says the customer who had threatened Stabile was one of the offenders.
"Stabile was making good money, and tried to ignore the offensive conduct," the suit says.
A year after she started working at the lodge, Grady Herndon was hired as the social quarters manager and became Stabile's supervisor, according to the suit. It says when he wasn't working, he would drink at the bar.
"He sat with male patrons as they made crude and sexual remarks to Stabile, and laughed at her embarrassment along with them," the complaint says.
In October 2008, Herndon came to the lodge on karoake night, and sang a sexually offensive song, and later changed the words of another song to say, "Trish needs to get drunk and screw," according to the suit.
While Herndon was the social quarters manager, money and alcohol came up missing, and he blamed the female employees, it says. The complaint says four female workers met with the lodge governor in October 2008 to complain about their boss' behavior.
While Stabile was the only woman to complain about Herndon's alleged crude behavior, another bartender confirmed what she said, according to the complaint.
Two members of the lodge criticized the lodge governor for meeting with the women, it says.
"Specifically, [he] was advised that Matt Grove, Moose International's District Manager, would appear at the next meeting to take care of [the lodge governor]," the complaint says.
The governor resigned that month.
The lawsuit says that Grove laughed at her when she said she didn't trust Herndon.
"In further questioning of Stabile, Grove ridiculed and mocked her," it says. "Thereafter, defendants began a campaign of harassment and retaliation against Stabile, and conspired to set Stabile up with false accusations to try and justify firing her. Stabile became the target of increasing abuse from male patrons. She also became the focus of blame for the continued problems in the bar areas, particularly missing money and alcohol."
Stabile's suit says the harassment caused her to have panic attacks.
"Herndon confided in several people that he was told by management to fire Stabile or he himself would be fired," it says.
Herndon fired her on Feb. 10, 2009, after Stabile denied taking money and alcohol, the suit says.
It accuses the Moose of having a "hostile and abusive work environment."
The Strasburg Moose lodge administrator Ronald Downey declined to comment on Wednesday.
Moose International communications and public affairs director Kurt Wehrmeister said in an email Wednesday that Moose International hadn't yet been served a copy of the email and didn't have a comment.