Archive for Thursday, September 14, 2000

White House pastry chef sues Clinton

Sex harassment alleged in kitchen

September 14, 2000

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— A sexual harassment lawsuit brought by the White House's assistant pastry chef against her boss, the pastry chef, accuses President Clinton of failing to make sure such complaints can be reported.

Franette McColloch asserts that Roland Mesnier has subjected her to "severe sexual harassment" since 1991, culminating in stress-related medical conditions and retaliation for reporting the alleged harassment.

White House spokesman Joe Lockhart said the White House "is committed to ensuring equal employment opportunity for all its employees and takes allegations of employment discrimination seriously."

Clinton is named in the suit because, as president and head of the White House, McColloch's attorneys say, he ultimately is responsible for making sure that there is an avenue for reporting alleged sexual harassment and other civil rights violations. The complaint, filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court, claims Clinton has not done so.

McColloch is asking for a total of $2 million $1 million from Clinton and $1 million from Mesnier. The White House said it had not yet seen the complaint.

White House spokesman Joe Lockhart declined comment on the lawsuit but said the White House "is committed to ensuring equal employment opportunity for all its employees and takes allegations of employment discrimination seriously."

McColloch, who has worked at the White House since 1983, says in the complaint that Mesnier repeatedly made unwanted advances against her and demanded to know why she would not have a sexual relationship with him.

In retaliation for refusing him, the complaint alleges that Mesnier was "hostile and rude" to her at work, left dozens of messages on her answering machine and took duties away from her.

The complaint alleges that McColloch brought her complaints to several of her superiors. She says that she was "deliberately misled" into believing that she had no way to pursue her allegations and no legal recourse. She says she was told that she either had to remain in her position, with Mesnier as her supervisor, or to quit her job.

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