Male Temp Workers Allege Harassment by Female Fender Guitar Colleague

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LOS ANGELES (CNS) - Four men who worked through a temporary staffing agency at Fender Musical Instruments Corp. in Corona are suing both companies, alleging they were sexually harassed by a female co-worker whose behavior was tolerated for too long by both management and human resources.

The Los Angeles Superior Court lawsuit was brought Friday by Daniel Gutierrez, Hector Geronimo De Rosas, John Taliaferro V and Jorge Mercado, alleging sexual harassment and retaliation for reporting sexual harassment. The quartet also names Cornerstone Staffing Solutions Inc. as a defendant.

The plaintiffs seek unspecified compensatory and punitive damages for their alleged emotional distress. Representatives for Fender and Cornerstone did not immediately reply to a request for comment.

Through Cornerstone's staffing, Gutierrez has worked at Fender's Corona warehouse as a sander since March 2022; De Rosas was employed there as a sander and material handler from April through June 2022; Taliaferro has worked as a washer at the location since September 2021; and Mercado had a sander job there from February through June 2022, according to the suit.

Also assigned to Fender through another staffing agency was a female guitar inspector. In March 2022, the woman started making inappropriate sexual comments at work to Gutierrez and some of his other male co-workers, several of whom were teens, the suit states.

The woman also allegedly frequently touched Gutierrez and his male co- workers in a sexually inappropriate manner multiple times per week, not stopping even after getting disapproving looks from Gutierrez, the suit alleges.

"Mr. Gutierrez was offended by the inappropriate and unwanted sexual advances, comments, and/or remarks," according to the suit. He also objected to the alleged failure of Fender and Cornerstone to take swift measures despite numerous complaints to management and human resources from Gutierrez's co- workers, the suits states.

De Rosas alleges that the woman on "virtually a daily basis" asked him personal questions about his body and his regularity of intimacy.

"Each time, plaintiff De Rosas looked at her strangely because her sexual behavior made him very uncomfortable, but he was scared to say anything because he just started his employment at Fender and did not want to get into any trouble," according to the suit.

One month after Taliaferro began working at the Fender warehouse, the female colleague began making inappropriate remarks to him, the suit states. She also "ran her fingers down" Taliaferro's spine in a sexually provocative manner and grabbed him from behind, the suit alleges.

The female co-worker's alleged sexual harassment continued despite two complaints by Taliaferro, who then was singled out for retaliation by the woman and a supervisor, including for using his phone during work even though other workers did the same thing without a reprimand, the suit states.

The woman showed pornographic videos on her phone to another male colleague and one male worker quit because of her alleged sexual harassment, according to the complaint.

Like Taliaferro, Mercado also alleges the female guitar inspector ran his fingers down his back and says she ignored his pleas to be professional.

"Instead, she began showing more attitude to Mercado by making his work harder and by being stricter on her inspections of his work on the guitars and complained that he had a poor attitude," the suit states.

Last June, Taliaferro and Mercado were asked by human resources to make a written statement about their complaints and more than a week later, the female co-worker was removed from Taliaferro's work area so her staffing agency could investigate her, according to the suit.

"In sum, plaintiffs were all subjected to a pattern and practice of third-party sexual harassment," according to the suit, which further alleges that Fender and Cornerstone management were aware or should have been aware about her behavior.

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