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University, security contractor sued for gender bias, negligent hiring

Former security guard alleges three years of gender discrimination by her direct superior

By
Senior Staff Writer
Tuesday, September 26, 2017

A former security guard with a University contractor filed a lawsuit in June against the company and her former supervisor for gender-based discrimination and retaliation, as well as the University for negligently contracting with the company and violating its duty to hire a non-discriminatory company.

In the lawsuit, filed in Providence/Bristol County Superior Court, Nancy Stanley details numerous incidents in which she claims that her supervisor at APG Security, Account Manager Paul Bassett, discriminated against her based on her gender.

The accounts begin when Bassett refused to grant Stanley her meal breaks, according to the lawsuit. When Stanley was on duty at the BioMedical Center, as was often the case, she could not take her meal breaks without a substitute security guard covering her shift. Bassett often failed to send a replacement, forcing Stanley to work without breaks.

Stanley “never received payment for that time worked,” the suit alleges.

Stanley’s lawyers declined to comment on the suit, and Stanley could not be reached for comment.

The suit alleges that Bassett then threatened to fire Stanley when the two met to discuss the issue. “I hope you’re not going to be like the other females that work here. … All they do is cause drama. … I just got rid of one, only three more to go,” Bassett said to Stanley during the encounter, according to the lawsuit.

Bassett also frequently told Stanley she was dressed inappropriately, even though Stanley dressed in a button-down shirt and jacket, and her male colleagues often wore t-shirts, the lawsuit alleges.

In addition, Bassett’s “haphazard” rule-changing over time-off documentation and leave for medical procedures applied only to Stanley, the lawsuit also alleges.

Bassett’s actions caused Stanley “to leave an APG work shift to receive emergency medical care for a panic attack caused by stress,” according to the lawsuit.

“I don’t like you, and I know you don’t like me, but we need to get along or there will be trouble. Off the record, I will win,” Bassett told her, according to the lawsuit.

David Allsworth, Stanley’s fiance and an employee of Brown’s Department of Public Safety, entered the fray when Bassett discussed Stanley with Allsworth and told him that his fiancee “was just being a difficult woman like the rest of them and just starting trouble,” the lawsuit alleges. Allsworth declined to comment for this story.

Stanley informed APG’s human resources department about the gender discrimination in May 2016, three years into her job. APG did not investigate her complaints, the lawsuit alleges.

As the alleged discrimination intensified, Stanley kept record of Bassett’s behavior in a notebook. She discovered in May 2016 that her notes had been removed and the book had been tampered with. The suit alleges that Bassett retaliated against her decision to keep track of his discriminatory behavior and to report that behavior. Whistleblower protection laws protect Stanley from any such retaliatory action, the lawsuit states.

Previously, Stanley had also complained about Bassett’s behavior to Joe Coutu, the night manager for APG at the University, and Peter Holden, the BMC facilities director. Coutu could not be reached for comment, and Holden declined to comment.

APG terminated Stanley in July 2016, and the lawsuit was filed nearly a year later in June 2017.

APG and Bassett denied the lawsuit’s allegations in a response submitted to the court on Sept. 1. The defendants also filed a counterclaim that accused Stanley of harming and interfering with the University-APG relationship with “a frivolous legal claim … directly against Brown,” according to the counterclaim. The defense team for APG and Bassett declined to comment.

Following the Sept. 1 answer and counterclaim filing of the defendants, the University filed a motion to remove itself from the suit Sept. 5. The University argued that Stanley and her lawyers failed “to state a claim upon which relief may be granted,” according to the memorandum in support of the University’s motion to dismiss.

“We are aware of the complaint filed in Rhode Island Superior Court. The complaint centers on alleged interactions between two individuals who at the time were employees of a third-party contractor hired to provide supplemental security services on campus. We will respond as appropriate through the legal process,” wrote University spokesperson Brian Clark in an email to The Herald. Clark declined to comment further on the matter.

A hearing on the University’s motion to dismiss has been set for Nov. 15.