Posted February 4th, 2015.
Female Vice President Expected To Endure Vulgar Talk & Sexual Advances To Keep Her Job
ALEXANDRIA, Va., Feb. 4, 2015 /PRNewswire/ — Garda, a company that provides armored trucks throughout the United States and touts itself as being a “global leader in comprehensive security and risk management” didn’t manage to keep its former Vice President of Business Process and Integration Nicole Watson safe, she alleges. A complaint filed today by Ms. Watson in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia provides a disturbing window into the inner workings of the privately-held international defense contractor that the complaint describes as being a “male-dominated, ‘guys with guns’ corporation.”
According to the complaint, when the Company decided to move its headquarters from Virginia to Dubai, United Arab Emirates, it began systematically purging the few women in the company who held leadership positions. Garda insisted that if Ms. Watson was to keep her job, she interview, instead, with Garda Cash. During the interview, the President of Garda Cash, Chris Jamroz, made multiple lewd and sexually explicit comments during the interview, forcibly kissed and groped her multiple times against her will, told her that engaging in sexual relations with him was a component of any position at the Company, and bragged that the Company protected men they knew engaged in similar conduct.
“Nicole was subjected to disgusting sexual harassment at the same time she was being pushed out of her job solely because she is a woman. That, alone, is egregious enough,” said Katherine Kimpel, Partner at Sanford Heisler Kimpel. “But the fact that the Company proceeded to retaliate against her for failing to acquiesce to Company President Jamroz’s conduct is shameful. That Defendants threatened to spend millions of dollars to ‘ruin her’ and to ‘be pigs about it’ shows their true colors. Whatever this corporation thinks it can get away with in other countries, this sort of behavior will not be tolerated in the U.S.”
A resident of Virginia, Ms. Watson has a long history of success in corporate leadership roles. Since being pushed out of the Company, her career has been sidetracked. Ms. Watson explained “what they did to me is something I carry to this day. They subjected me to sexual harassment, underpaid me, and pushed me out of the Company. I reported it, but instead of doing what’s right, they retaliated against me. They need to be held accountable.”
The complaint details systemic gender discrimination with countless instances of men being promoted over women, paid more than women, and being given positions for which women were not even considered or allowed to compete. For instance, when the female then-VP of finance was passed over for the lead finance role and was summarily denied the opportunity to relocate to Dubai, she expressed dismay at that situation. In response, a high level leader at Garda commented “call it discrimination if you want – that’s just the way it works.”
Ms. Watson is requesting declaratory relief, compensatory and punitive damages, legal costs, front pay, back pay and other relief the Court may determine. A jury trial is requested. Ms. Watson is represented by Katherine Kimpel and Lauren Hartz at Sanford Heisler Kimpel, LLP and Nicholas Woodfield at the Employment Law Group.
Defendant Garda is comprised of a range of corporate entities, including GardaWorld International Protective Services, Garda Cash Logistics, and Garda World Security Corporation. Garda is partially owned by Apax Partners, a global private equity firm. The Founding President and CEO of Garda, Stephan Cretier and President and COO, Oliver Westmacott have also been named as Defendants.
About Sanford Heisler Kimpel, LLP
Sanford Heisler Kimpel, LLP is a public interest class-action litigation law firm with offices in New York, Washington, D.C., and San Francisco. Our attorneys have graduated from the nation’s top law schools, clerked for judges throughout the United States, and amassed extensive experience litigating cases that have earned over one billion dollars for our clients.
The Firm specializes in civil rights and general public interest cases, representing plaintiffs with employment discrimination, labor and wage violations, predatory lending, whistleblower, consumer fraud, and other claims. Along with a focus on class actions, SHK also represents individuals and has achieved particular success in the representation of executives in employment disputes. For more information call 202 499-5202 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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