Fred Fuller Oil targeted by federal officials in new sexual harassment lawsuit
HUDSON — Oil company owner Fred Fuller resolved a misdemeanor sexual assault case in November by pleading no contest to a lesser charge, but that case is now causing him new legal troubles from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
Federal prosecutors announced on Friday that they filed a new lawsuit against Fred Fuller Oil Company for Fuller's contact with the 29-year-old woman, which forced her to quit her job at his company in July 2011.
Police brought a misdemeanor sexual assault case against Fuller last year regarding his physical contact with the woman at the company's Hudson office on July 11, 2011.
A plea agreement in November allowed Fuller, 65, of Manchester to plead no contest to misdemeanor simple assault and receive a suspended 90-day jail sentence.
Federal prosecutors said that the woman told Fuller in October 2011 that she planned on filing a workplace discrimination complaint against him, and Fuller retaliated by firing her friend — and fellow co-worker — less than a month later.
The lawsuit marks the second time federal officials brought legal action against Fuller and his company since 2003 for complaints by female employees about sexual harassment.
The company paid a $780,000 settlement in July 2005 in response to complaints by five other women, but Fuller and the company ultimately admitted to no wrongdoing.
"Although the first settlement seems to have given Fuller pause, the allegations in this latest complaint confirm that Fuller did not learn anything from the large payment and the training that was required," Elizabeth Grossman, regional attorney for the EEOC's New York District, said in a released statement.
"This agency will continue to prosecute Fred Fuller's company until he gets the message and no woman need fear working for him."
Federal prosecutors described Fuller as a "serial sexual harasser" in its first lawsuit, and cited examples in the latest case of what the 29-year-old woman endured while on the job.
D. David Lopez, general counsel for the EEOC, said in a complaint that Fuller subjected the woman to "touching of breasts, other unwanted touching, sexually explicit language and gestures, demands for sexual favors, demeaning language and other conduct."
Fuller once asked the woman "if she would like to earn some extra money by stripping for his son's bachelor party" and told her "she needed to wear more revealing clothing, and that the only good about the company T-shirts that (she) wore was that his name was on her breasts."
The second woman in the case was also subjected to sexually-explicit comments by Fuller, prosecutors said.
Once when the woman asked for time off, Fuller grabbed his crotch and asked her, "What can you do for me?" in response, prosecutors said.
No response has been filed yet by Fuller, or attorneys in his case. The government is seeking an undisclosed amount in damages on behalf of the two women.