A Louisiana woman is suing her former employer, Waffle House, and ex-supervisor, Donald Ballard, for sexual discrimination in federal court.
Charmaine Anderson, a former waitress at a Slidell, La., Waffle House, claims the restaurant chain failed to take appropriate steps against Ballard, a cook who allegedly had a reputation for harassing female employees while on the clock. Anderson also claims to have been the victim of retaliatory termination for reporting her supervisor's actions.
According to court documents, in December 2011, Ballard pleaded guilty and served jail time after sending an obscene photo of his penis to a waitress via text message while at work. He also allegedly threatened to stab Anderson with a knife when she told him that she intended to report his actions to Waffle House corporate.
The Huffington Post contacted the Slidell Police Department for information about Ballard's arrest. A public information officer told HuffPost that a summons had been issued to Ballard, but that he had not been arrested -- a claim that conflicts with the court documents.
According to the suit, which was filed on Sept. 14, Ballard had a reputation for harassing female employees and would threaten retaliation and sexual harm against employees who complained. The suit claims that Ballard did not fear discipline for his actions because he was romantically involved with his district supervisor.
Anderson filed a sexual harassment complaint with Waffle House following Ballard's arrest, but rather than being terminated, Ballard received a transfer to a different location. No further disciplinary action has been taken against Ballard by Waffle House, the suit claims.
In March 2012, Anderson was fired for missing work. The woman had been registering her son at school and provided a note from Slidell High School in an attempt to justify her absence. This was rejected by Waffle House, and she was fired.
Anderson had worked at Waffle House since 2005 and had no prior disciplinary record. The suit claims that Anderson's termination was in retaliation for her sexual harassment complaint against Ballard.
The general provision of Louisiana's whistleblower law protects employees who "disclose a workplace act of practice that is in violation of state law."
This is not the first case of alleged sexual harassment at a New Orleans-area Waffle House.
In March 2011, Jennifer Pulsifer was arrested after a female co-worker claimed Pulsifer groped her several times throughout the course of a year.
In one incident, Pulsifer allegedly “ran her hand between the victim’s legs and caressed the woman’s genitals while she was bending down to pick up some change that had fallen on the floor,” a police spokesman told the Times-Picayune at the time.